STEM, the acronym, represents the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the most important skills in today’s tech workforce. Want to learn more about STEM? Here are some fascinating STEM facts and figures.

Discover cool STEM facts and figures

So we have an idea for what STEM is, but it’s also important to understand why STEM is important and how STEM education came to be. Here are some facts that illustrate these points.

Why is STEM so important?

  1. STEM education is so important because there is a dire need for people with STEM skills in the workforce. Science and technology are becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives. Because of this, STEM stats show that the fastest growing and highest paying careers are STEM fields.
  2. STEM education is not only about technical skills! STEM problem solving fosters skills such as critical thinking, creativity, independence, and confidence. Check out the best homeschool STEM curriculum.
  3. STEM education can also promote social skills. Working on a STEM problem in a group promotes teamwork. Defending an approach to a STEM problem promotes public speaking and discussion skills.
  4. Not only is STEM education important, but also it's fun and interesting! According to a global survey conducted by Cambridge University in the UK, math is the most popular subject in students aged 12-19.
  5. It’s also really important to start STEM education early! According to a study from UC Irvine, developing math skills early leads to future academic success in all subjects.

Who invented STEM?

  1. Advanced STEM education in the US can be traced back to the Morrill Act of 1862 that established “land grant” institutions that received federal funding to advance agricultural science. Kansas State University, founded in 1863, was the first land grant institution.
  2. The demand for military related engineering for World War II and the Cold War led to increased funding and attention towards STEM related programs, eventually leading to the moon landing in 1969.
  3. The actual STEM acronym was originally SMET! In 2001, National Science Foundation biologist and Director of Education for the NSF at the time Judith Ramaley rearranged the letters to form the acronym we know today.
  4. STEM education really began to gain attention after a troubling 2005 report from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine titled Rising Above the Gathering Storm emphasized the importance of STEM education to make the US economy more competitive globally. This report also coincided with historically low scores in math and science testing when compared to other advanced countries.
  5. Nowadays one may see the acronym “STEAM” also used - this acronym stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. Advocates for STEAM education claim that incorporating art into a STEM curriculum promotes a more well rounded education.

What is STEM mostly about? - Addressing myths of STEM careers

  1. “Science” covers a broad range of subjects, not just mad science chemistry experiments! According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, some interesting STEM job titles that fall under its “Life, Physical, and Social Science” jobs include astronomers, food scientists, forensic technicians (aka: detectives), and zoologists! (note that social sciences are not traditionally considered “STEM”)
  2. Math is more than just multiplication tables and solving equations. The math we think of the most is known as “computation”, following steps to reach a known outcome. More advanced mathematics involves proofs or applying formal math concepts to real world problems. Advanced math papers have a lot more words than numbers!
  3. Since we discussed STEAM earlier, we should explore the many intersections between engineering and art. Have you always stared in awe at cool looking buildings? Do you want to design your own? Architecture is a unique field that combines engineering and art. Due to its interdisciplinary nature and emphasis on designing safe structures, an architecture undergraduate degree traditionally takes 4 years to complete rather than 5.
  4. Another crossover between engineering and art is in user interface (UI) design. These are the people that design where buttons, text, and photos are in websites and apps. While UI designers must have an artistic sense of what looks good, they also know what makes an easy to use interface. Many UI designers also have coding skills.
  5. An overlooked career in STEM is to teach STEM! One reason why the STEM teacher shortage is especially pronounced is because most STEM graduates are lured to more lucrative careers than teaching. Also sadly, the shortage in STEM teachers is worse for schools with lower resources. To illustrate this shortage, there are 6,000 physics majors nationwide, but 30,000 physics teacher openings.

Now you know STEM facts and figures

With these STEM facts and figures you now have a better understanding of the world of STEM. STEM is more than the technical skills but also encompasses the soft skills. STEM has a long and interesting history. There are STEM jobs that cater to all sorts of skill sets.

Now that you know more about STEM and its importance, your child can gain more experience with STEM through Create & Learn’s online group coding for kids classes and some of the best online STEM classes for kids. Start with our most popular beginner class that introduces kids to essential coding concepts through a very user-friendly interface with Scratch coding.

Written by Brandon Lim, a Create & Learn instructor and curriculum developer. Brandon also works full-time as a software engineer and holds a BS in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. Brandon has experience teaching coding to students of all ages from elementary school to college and is excited to share his deep knowledge and relentless passion for coding with the next generation of technology leaders.