As a person a little scared to so much as add without the help of a calculator, I understand why STEM has a menacing reputation among high school students. The STEM skills—that is, science, technology, engineering and math—are often considered complicated and unnecessary lessons to students who don’t want to be scientists, technicians, engineers or mathematicians. Many students assume they’re better off avoiding these courses altogether. However, it is important to let students know the true significance of developing STEM skills.

In an educational setting, STEM is about learning how to think and assess. The basic skills taught in a STEM course are to think logically and to formulate critical questions. Complex questions can be tackled by guiding yourself through the principles of scientific thought. This way, students learn to ask good questions. He or she learns how to form strong hypotheses and to seek data that will confirm or deny those hypotheses. Whether analyzing a math proof or a chemistry formula, the underlying goal is the same for the student: be a problem solver. This skill is not important to just STEM fields, but to almost any career.

Outside the classroom, rapidly advancing technology means any career path may require some level of STEM literacy. In fact, while there is a great deal of under- and unemployment in the nation, jobs related to STEM remain understaffed due to the lack of skills. There is a new level of interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary cohesion to the national workforce, where STEM subjects gain relevancy in many fields, from bioengineering to online learning. It’s not only the subject matter that makes STEM relevant in a plethora of work environments, it’s the skills to solve problems creatively and see the big picture that is really important and is first learned in the STEM subjects in school.

As STEM compels us to understand our world as a complex machine, it also encourages us to improve it. A greater national STEM literacy creates a more informed, more invested population. Dedication to problem solving translates to societal improvement. It’s important to encourage students in the STEM fields to hone skills that will become vital as they grow up into the workforce of the next generation.

Further Reading
“STEM’s New Reputation,”, accessed November 5, 2012,
“Verizon Initiative Aims to Raise STEM Enthusiasm in Students,”, accessed November 5, 2012,
“Why CIOs Desperately Need a Technology-Literate Society,” CIO Journal (The Wall Street Journal), accessed November 5, 2012,