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Celebrate National STEM/STEAM Day on November 8 with hBARSCI

Celebrate National STEM/STEAM Day on November 8 with hBARSCI

People who work in STEM make up 23% of the total US workforce, and this number is likely to grow over the coming years, partially due to reasons discussed later in this blog post. Despite the undeniable importance of developing a skilled STEM workforce, studies in the early 2000s revealed that US students were not achieving in the STEM disciplines at the same rate as students in other countries. These studies indicate that the country would not be able to compete in the global economy in the future as the result of poorly preparing the workforce for the impending upsurge in these types of jobs.

To address this growing economic need for a larger, well-educated workforce and to encourage minorities underrepresented in these fields, MGAE founded National STEM/STEAM Day to inspire students to be more involved in these fields of education, study, and work.

How STEM/STEAM Day Began

In 2015, MGAE, a manufacturer of children's toys and entertainment products launched a new franchise called Project Mc2 featuring four smart girls who work to protect the world as part of a secret spy organization called NOV8 (pronounced "innovate"); thus, November 8 was chosen as National STEM/STEAM Day.

To help bring STEM/STEAM concepts into kids’ living rooms, a Netflix original series of the same name was developed. According to MGAE CEO Issac Larian, the series “show[s] children that STEM and STEAM are already all around them, and that their favorite hobbies are actually rooted in science, technology, engineering, art and math.” Larian hopes that “National STEM/STEAM Day will kick-start conversations about how important it is to provide kids STEAM related activities outside of schools.”

Why Pursue a Job in a STEM Field?

There are several alluring aspects of working in a STEM field, many of which have been particularly illuminated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Science Foundation National Science Board, despite the effects of the pandemic, unemployment was lower among the STEM labor force (2%) compared to the non-STEM labor force (4%) at this time. Additionally, STEM workers had higher median earnings ($55,000) than non-STEM workers ($33,000) during this time.

STEM’s Evolution to STEAM

In 2001, an update to the No Child Left Behind Act of 1965 listed the arts as a core academic subject in school alongside reading, science, math, and other disciplines. This designation sparked conversations around and research on the importance of the arts in children’s learning.

For example, in their 2006 report titled “How the ARTS Benefit Student Achievement,” the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies discusses data identifying benefits of incorporating arts into a student’s school day. The researchers found that students scored better on standardized tests when they were more active in the arts compared to those who were less active in the arts. Those same students reportedly also watched less TV, felt less bored in school, and participated in more hours of community service.

The report also highlights findings of a study in 2005 that show that increased years of enrollment in arts courses are positively correlated with higher SAT verbal and math scores. High school students who take arts classes have higher math and verbal SAT scores than students who take no arts classes. It makes sense, then, that supporting and encouraging the participation in arts-based learning would only increase students’ ability to pursue meaningful work in other areas.

Celebrating STEM/STEAM to Elevate Minorities

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields have historically been underrepresented by women and by minorities, so STEM/STEAM Day is especially targeted toward these groups of people. Says Larian of MGAE, “Women, in particular, are vastly underrepresented in STEAM fields, and their absence in those jobs is bringing down the earning averages of women overall. Sparking interest in STEAM among girls is critical to their future earning potential.” 

The bipartisan congressional STEM Education Caucus noted that “our knowledge-based economy is driven by constant innovation. The foundation of innovation lies in a dynamic, motivated, and well-educated workforce equipped with STEM skills.”

STEM/STEAM jobs contribute greatly to our country’s ability to remain competitive in the global marketplace in cutting-edge fields such as medical science, engineering, and information security. So this STEM/STEAM Day, introduce your students and children to the wonderful world of STEAM, whether through a show like Project Mc2 or by encouraging their interest in a STEM field at home with an experiment like any of those in hBARSCI’s blog posts:

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