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Integrating STEM into everyday life could sustain interest

A recent Huffpost Canada article made an excellent point about the future of our work landscape.

Safeera Sarjoo
15th February 2016
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It was reported in a 2015 article that ‘by the time our children are grown, at least 65% of the jobs they will have don’t even exist today.’ A number of these will naturally be within STEM industries given the evolution of technology and how entwined these subjects are.

Sustaining an interest in STEM subjects is crucial if we are to have a competent workforce in place to take up these jobs. In the US this number is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022, according to a 2014 Bureau of Labour Statistics report.

We’ve already explored some interesting careers that you are able to do within the STEM industry. These include being a skate park engineer and even an ethical hacker. But the issue still remains that there is some kind of a disconnect that stops students from pursuing a career within these industries. This lack of engagement is particularly worrying as STEM subjects are considered to be one of the accelerating forces for future economic growth according to Huffington Post UK article. Coorous Mohtadi, a senior member of the MathWorks technical specialist team states in his article that ‘Issues such as sustainability, managing the planet’s resources and using renewable energy appropriately are all challenges that can be benefit from the work of mathematicians, scientists and engineers across many disciplines.’

The general problem with the STEM industry is that it’s perceived to be a male dominated area and to an extent this is true. There are plenty of statistics that demonstrate a lack of female presence within these industries. A number of factors discussed in a previous editorial around Australian female STEM workers quitting within five years of entering the industry was a shocking insight into the state of the employment landscape within STEM. From an industry perspective, there is no doubt that work needs to be done in order to encourage and integrate females into a work culture that takes them into consideration.

However sparking an interest and curiosity about these subjects from a young age is another challenge that has come to light. Research conducted by Accenture in 2015 found startling attitudes towards the STEM sector from young girls. Approximately 60% of girls aged 12 in the UK were put off by STEM subjects as they felt they were too difficult to learn, while 47% thought they were a better match for boys and their personalities.

This is both insane and sad to think that girls as young as 12 are already resigning themselves to failure because they think a certain mindset and personality is required to work within these industries. The truth is, if you have an interest and a passion for it, a career is feasible.

Interestingly enough, an article written by Melanie Pinola suggested disguising STEM through activities that young people enjoyed was an effective way to engage them. The ‘Lifehacks’ author described a group of Girl Scouts explaining that they didn’t enjoy STEM subjects and didn’t feel they were good for them. Yet when they were presented with activities such a real-life game, Move the Turtle, they were engaged and interested. ‘They enjoyed the activities when they weren’t presented as “learning about technology” or having to learn science facts because there’s a test on Friday,’ Pinola said.

Taking this method into the family home may just be the answer to developing an interest. Cooking is such a fun way to include maths and science into an activity almost every child will love. Spending time baking cupcakes is enough time to throw in a few mathematical problems and explain what happens when ingredients are blended and baked. 

‘But even normal daily things like explaining what happens when water boils, why toast burns, or why you should melt butter if you want the cookies to be chewy are ways to sneak in math and science without being pedantic,’ Pinola adds.

It is important to keep in mind that last word though. We don’t want to be pedantic and overbearing where it seems like there’s an overload of mathematical problems every dinner time. Look to encourage an appreciation for STEM and don't forget that praising the process will slowly change the way kids view these subjects. Who knows, they may just come to associate the acronym with positivity, experimentation and life in general.

 

If you’re interested in a particular STEM subject, be it Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths, we have a number of courses you can choose from to study. Get searching now on Training and Courses.

 

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