STEAM Careers: Why is Engaging STEAM Education in School Important?

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) programs prepare students for a variety of careers, including engineering, science, and research. STEAM professionals can pursue careers in a variety of fields, including aeronautics and biochemistry. Some STEAM students use their technical knowledge in fields such as law, politics, and education.

Some good STEAM careers, such as that of a welder or a manufacturing technician, do not require a college degree; instead, they require an industry certification or a two-year degree. However, the vast majority of STEAM jobs require some post-secondary education.

STEAM disciplines are both interesting and difficult. They can help you prepare for careers in fields that pay well and are plentiful. STEAM jobs are growing at a faster rate than non-STEAM jobs for postsecondary students. Furthermore, the skills learned while studying STEAM subjects, such as critical thinking and problem solving, are applicable to almost all careers and are in high demand for the majority.

Source: https://www.lakeshorelearning.com/products/stem/building-engineering/steam-careers-bulletin-board-set/p/SCD110383/

A partial list of STEAM careers is as follows:

  • Doctors of medicine
  • Dentists
  • Technologists in Manufacturing
  • Professionals in Health Care
  • Engineers
  • Scientists
  • Agriculture
  • Computer Service Technicians
  • Welders
  • Electricians
  • …

 

Steam education in schools

Setting students up for future success in today’s world entails exposing them to these disciplines holistically in order to develop their critical thinking skills. In a Financial Times article, education writer Jeevan Vasagar claims that “education is under pressure to respond to a changing world. As technology and outsourcing erode repetitive tasks, the ability to solve novel problems has become increasingly important” (Lathan, 2022; Deangelis, 2022).

Furthermore, the earlier students are exposed to STEAM disciplines, the better. According to a Microsoft study, four out of five STEM college students (78 percent) decided to study STEAM in high school or earlier, and one in five (21 percent) decided in middle school or earlier (Lathan, 2022). However, only one in every five STEAM college students believes that their K-12 education prepared them extremely well for their STEAM college courses (Lathan, 2022). When it comes to those working in STEAM fields, there appears to be a significant gender disparity. Another aspect of the movement is to get more girls interested in STEAM disciplines (Lathan, 2022).

A STEAM framework not only teaches students how to think critically, solve problems, and be creative, but it also prepares students to work in fields that are expanding. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM and STEAM-related occupations will grow by 8% between now and 2029, compared to 3.4 percent for non-STEM occupations (Lathan, 2022) and almost 11 million job openings are forecast to open up in STEM-related fields by 2029 (Lesley University, 2022). The Bureau also shows that the median annual wage for STEM/STEAM jobs is $86,980, compared to $39,810 for all occupations (Lathan, 2022).

STEAM is an evolution of the original STEM acronym, with one additional component: art. Why the shift? The incorporation of the arts into STEM learning has enabled educators to broaden the benefits of hands-on education and collaboration in a variety of ways, with creativity and curiosity at the forefront. But, before we get there, consider the evolution of STEM to STEAM. The initial push for STEM curriculum implementation resulted (pun intended) from an increase in related job opportunities in the American economy.

According to the National Education Association, there are four primary skill areas necessary for success in the 21st century:

  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity & Innovation

Unlike traditional teaching models, the STEAM framework blurs the lines between disciplines to encourage higher levels of creativity and effectiveness in problem solving (Deangelis, 2022). Giving a future engineer, for example, the ability to visualize and sketch out his ideas will make him more effective in his job later on.

 

Conclusions

STEAM education is imperative for children of our era. Most of the future jobs will require interdisciplinary skills and knowledge which can only be acquired through project-based learning and learning by doing, which are two dimensions inherent in STEAM education.

 

Resources

Deangelis, S.F. (2022). Why STEM? Success Starts with Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving Skills. Wired.com. Available at: https://www.wired.com/insights/2014/06/stem-success-starts-critical-thinking-problem-solving-skills/

Lathan, J. (2022). Why STEAM is so Important to 21st Century Education. University of San Diego Online. Available at: https://onlinedegrees.sandiego.edu/steam-education-in-schools/

Lesley University. (2022). STEAM Learning in Action. Lesley University Website. Available at: https://lesley.edu/article/steam-learning-in-action