The August 6, 2009 edition of The Baltimore Sun featured a very interesting article on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. It noted that, in conjunction with President Obama’s sentiment earlier this year about the importance of STEM education, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s task force has unveiled a five-year, $72 million plan to “make Maryland no less than the Silicon Valley of the 21st century.”
The funding will be used to accomplish a number of goals at the high school and college level – to have two-thirds of all high school graduates take the math and science courses necessary to enroll in high-level courses in college, for universities to specifically recruit and certify STEM teachers, create economic incentives and summer fellowships for those teachers and improve STEM teacher retention rates.
Although eCYBERMISSION ends after ninth grade, the competition can lay the groundwork for an interest in STEM education as early as sixth grade. By entering the competition and proposing a solution to a real community problem using science, math and technology, not to mention winning regional and national awards in the process, a student with just a minimal interest in STEM will be more likely to pursue that interest for his or her remaining high school years and beyond.
According to a September 2008 article from the Council of State Governments, the United States ranks 21st in science literacy and 25th in math literacy among 30 other countries of similar world status. The only way to improve this statistic is to encourage students to engage in STEM-related projects and classes as early in their schooling as possible, and eCYBERMISSION is definitely one way to accomplish that goal.
What do you think? In these times of economic troubles, do you think STEM education is something in which we should be investing? Why or why not?