Inspiring Eureka: Rethinking Math and Science Education
The United States ranks just 31st globally in student achievement in math. Annually, fewer than 60,000 American college graduates earn degrees in the top five engineering majors — a number woefully insufficient to fill industry needs and fuel innovation. It’s imperative that educators inspire the next generation of students — not simply to staff the next interstellar adventure, but because STEM proficiency is vital for thriving in the 21st century economy.
In recent years, job growth in STEM-related industries has outpaced the rate in other industries by more than 300 percent. By 2014, STEM companies will create 2.5 million new positions — and that number is expected to continue to grow exponentially. The benefits to studying and practicing STEM are clear. In 2009, the most recent year of data, the average yearly wage for a worker at a STEM company was $77,000. That’s over $30,000 more than the national average. Beyond salary, the work done at these companies is exciting, fulfilling, and important, whether it’s helping build a valuable new feature for Facebook, helping build a new medical records system critical to health care reform, developing simulations for manufacturing products we export to transform lives in developing countries, designing more precise satellite systems for our nation’s defense, or researching breakthrough cancer drugs.