How to Overcome Obstacles to a STEM Education
For children in school, persuing STEM lessons can be the beginning of their being prepared for a much needed and higher paying job. Wait a minute, What is STEM? you might ask. STEM stands for Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. When children start school it would be hard to look at them and see who will be in a STEM field, so it’s important to train them all so they can reach their potential.
Students who focus on STEM majors are going into fields that are increasing 24%, which is far above average. There are many wonderful jobs in these areas and my children all fell into a STEM occupation. We homeschooled and had the ability to let them persue their favorite subjects as far as they could in high school. I have a child in computer mangagement, occupational therapy, and math.
Many children don’t have the same opportunities that my children had. As an educator myself, I always find it frustrating when every child doesn’t get the same educational opportunities as another. Let’s look at some of the obstacles that children may experience and learn how to help them.
As a person with many chronic illnesses, I look to those students who are gifted in the sciences with so much hope. Many diseases have no cures or have poor treatments with terrible side effects. More scientists mean more research and more medical discoveries. So I am a very loud cheer-leader for students going into STEM careers.
Low Income Students
Students from low-income families enter STEM careers at a much lower rate than others. Often they can’t afford a computer or high-speed internet. They may not have a family that can help them with homework or encourage them. Students from a higher income family usually are taken frequently to museums, science centers, STEM camps, and more. These are so motivating and can inspire a child for life.
To overcome the obstacle of being a low-income student, teachers, mentors, and parents may have to be creative to encourage children in STEM learning. A teacher or school counselor can keep track of scholarships that might provide a computer, trips to camps and museums, or more. Many community groups or after-school programs can help students with homework problems. If parents don’t have time to help, a teacher, boys/girls club mentor, or other community mentors may work one on one to give that child the push they need.
Myths That Girls Can’t Do STEM
I was told as a young girl that it didn’t matter if I could be great in math, because math wasn’t for girls. I was told by teachers in the ’70’s that girls are not smart in math. These types of comments, and many more, took away all confidence to try very hard in math. I decided that I would try to make it in the arts, because that was better for my gender. I ended up doing well in music performance, but never lived up to my potential in STEM.
Since then, there have been many years of working to change that attitude. Girls are now being encouraged to participate in Robot Teams, Math Drills, Science Fairs, and so many other things. The girls that want to be doctors or engineers are able to do so. Schools work hard to include girls in all areas, including STEM. Girls and boys will need to be excited at a science fair, an experiement in the lab, learning to code, and more.
America’s Low STEM Scores
One big obstacle to STEM education is that the US is very low in the order of countries around the world. With low budgets and teacher cuts, bigger class sizes, and lack of aids or mentors, our low scores are going to continue. It takes money to raise a generation of children who are well educated in STEM. In these classes, it’s so important to hire really good teachers. To do this, a higher pay must be offered. In STEM careers, these professionals can make so much more in the prive sector. One way for school counselors to better advise students, they could attend a family medicine conference.
There needs to be a budget for up-to-date computers, software, and labs with appropriate resources. Having resources for Robot Teams, Math Drill Teams, money to travel for competitions, smaller classes (which means more teachers), and more. Having parental encouragement is the best type of encouragement, but if it’s not available teachers, aids, after-school helpers can give the personal attention they need.
I hope that you’ll be a part of helping to encourage a student in STEM or any path that fits with that child’s passion and gifts.
@2022, copyright Lisa Ehrman
Resources: EngineeringforKids.com, Forbes, PLTW
- Lisa has been blogging since 2013, and loves sharing resources and ideas for living a simple life. To get free printables, bonus words, and more - sign up for the newsletter.