Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy and skills are vital to the professional success of our children and the economic health of our nation. STEM learning during the school day is necessary but not sufficient for life-long STEM literacy. Afterschool and expanded learning programs contribute to the strength and diversity of the nation's STEM workforce and therefore must be a key component of our nation's STEM learning system.
- Nearly 80 percent of future careers will require awareness of and facility with STEM.
- Students in the U.S. rank 25th in math and 17th in science skills among their peers in other industrialized countries.
- Only 43 percent of graduating seniors are ready for college math and 27 percent are ready for college science.
- Just 32 percent of U.S. college undergraduates are graduating with a bachelor's degree in science or engineering.
Strategies to Support STEM
- Create a STEM task force, or seek a role on an existing board of stakeholders dealing with STEM and look at how to coordinate cross-stakeholder efforts. STEM is a particularly popular focus for economic and community development initiatives.
- Conduct a survey on interest and needs of afterschool and expanded learning programs in STEM.
- Map programs in your state currently engaging children and youth in STEM.
- Get to know the players in STEM education in your state who can be potential partners, such as federal labs, local science centers and museums. Colleges and universities are also engaged in STEM education and may be inclined to collaborate in designing programs as well as offer professional development and resources.
- Promote engagement by making STEM a theme for conferences.
- Make the case for why afterschool and expanded learning is an integral partner in STEM education and should be included in policies, funding streams and initiatives.
Connect STEM businesses and stakeholders with afterschool and expanded learning programs.