STEM Moves the World Forward
I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary. – Elon Musk
Our life is changing rapidly, and so is the life quality. This is mostly due to the dynamic development of science and high technologies. In fact, every day brings some innovations to our lives, which are different in nature. STEM is one of these innovations. We now often hear about STEM professions, STEM education, and STEM devices & mechanisms. Let's try to get a glimpse at what lies behind the concept of STEM.
STEM is an English abbreviation that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The name implies that natural sciences, engineering and technologies go together and are closely intertwined in STEM professions, education, devices and mechanisms.
However, STEM education is not only the process of obtaining certain knowledge of science and technology; it also includes using special teaching methods based on clear presentation and comprehensibility, as well as visualization of objects studied. These methods develop students’ creative thinking.
The outcome of such education should be a fully educated and creatively thinking person, ready for experiments and lifelong education, and open to career changes. These young people are finding ready market in the modern high-tech world. The demand for STEM professions will continue to grow. World leading companies producing high-tech products seek this kind of experts and heartily welcome them with open arms.
Where We Use STEM
STEM is a way to meet a growing social demand in almost all spheres.
Let’s take medicine. If we use the STEM approach, then not only doctors and biologists are involved in finding solutions, but also geneticists, chemists, physicists, engineers, and IT specialists. They are all instrumental in ensuring successful diagnosing, prosthetics, doing surgery, providing prescription medication… and the list can go on.
Furthermore, with the agro-industrial complex, for example, you can easily find solutions to problems if you involve biologists, chemists, engineers-constructors, designers, and aviation specialists.
STEM specialists are needed in the energy sector too: this industry is placing an increasing emphasis on nuclear scientists, as well as engineers developing alternative forms of energy and renewable energy sources (hydrogen, water, solar energy, wind energy, biological fuels). These experts are becoming more and more in demand.
The development of robotics, too, lies in solving different problems requiring knowledge in various fields of science and technology.
The next field where STEM rules is IT. This is critical because it is impossible to imagine today's life without the IT sector. Today IT technologies penetrate all spheres of our lives and serve multiple areas of human life in general. We can also forecast their rapid development in the future.
These specialists are irreplaceable in transport, industrial and civil engineering as well. This industry sector evolution is unfeasible without STEM.
Finally, STEM ideas and concepts are widely penetrating all types of human activities, such as social sphere, education, culture, art, etc.
Famous STEM People
A striking example of such a specialist is Bill Gates, a world-famous self-starter who cofounded the Microsoft Empire. For many years, he has led the list of the wealthiest and most successful people on the planet.
As a young man, Bill was not sure what career he would like to pursue, and yet he entered Harvard Law School. However, Bill Gates was mostly involved in the work of a Computer Center at Harvard. After discovering a Computer Center at the University, he began to devote even less attention to main subjects. Then Bill dropped out of Harvard altogether and got engaged in developing computers and software. At first, well-known companies hired him to write specific programs. Some time later, Bill and his fellow drop-out Paul Allen decided to create their own company naming it Microsoft.
Gates returned to Harvard only 30 years later to receive a diploma. In his commencement speech, Bill addressed his father in front of young Harvard graduates:
I’ve been waiting for more than 30 years to say this, Dad, I always told you I’d come back and get my degree.
In fact, it was an agreement between the wealthiest man on the planet and the famous university. Harvard could not fight the temptation of being an alma mater for one of the most famous people in the world. And for Bill Gates it was important to show his father a diploma from a prestigious university.
The most famous innovator of recent years is undoubtedly Elon Musk, a self-made man, an engineer and inventor, the founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX. This outstanding person is doing incredible things: he is launching private spacecrafts, building Tesla electric cars, manufacturing solar panels, and is nursing ambition to create a permanent and self-sufficient human presence on Mars – Mars City. Recently, Elon Musk has been busy building Hyperloop's super-fast train in the desert, and on November 16, 2017, he wheeled out a Tesla semi-electric truck and presented it to the world community; the truck has the fuel distance of 500 miles (over 800 kilometers) and its acceleration time is up to 60 miles (96 kilometers) in just five seconds.
Elon’s innovative ideas started with STEM education: at the age of ten, he received his first computer as a present and learned how to program it on his own. This gave Elon a huge impetus and at the age of 12, he sold his first program for $500 – it was a computer game called Blast Star styled after Space Invaders. In 1992, Musk moved to the United States and entered the University of Pennsylvania receiving the Bachelor's degree in Physics from the College of Arts and Sciences. Then Elon got occupied with his own startups; they enhanced the rapid growth of his career.
STEM Approach in Education
Recently, it has become clear that the classical approach to education no longer meets the needs of a rapidly evolving society. A traditional university may well produce excellent teachers of philosophy or history; however, we need to provide a different style of getting new knowledge and applying it if we want our students to become engineers or innovators. This approach should be applied from childhood. It can both help to reveal the talents and abilities of young innovators early and to let them easily approach natural sciences and stop being scared by "complex matters". The demand for technical professionals is growing every year, and we already feel the lack of STEM specialists today. Now is the time to plant the seeds of progress, in order for them to grow in the near future meeting the demand in science and technology innovations at the right time. Today is the time to put all our effort into the STEM education. And it is best to do it at the state level.
We will give more detail about the role of STEM in education in our next article, so you still have time to get to know gorgeous STEM toys. After all, they are the first step towards a progressive education system and the core component in bringing up modern kids.