Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Avoiding the Rocket Scientist Syndrome: STEM Programs Are Not Only for the Best and the Brightest

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Avoiding the Rocket Scientist Syndrome: STEM Programs Are Not Only for the Best and the Brightest

Article excerpt

Emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has permeated discussions of American education at nearly every level. Our nation's ability to compete in the global marketplace depends on our ability to properly engage, encourage, and equip our students in STEM. As we strive to address this issue in schools across the country, however, we must include all students.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A common misconception is that STEM programs should be reserved for the best and brightest students--what I refer to as the rocket scientist syndrome. We tend to direct students identified as having a positive disposition toward STEM subjects and careers into STEM programs of study, upper-level coursework, and college preparatory programs. These students often succeed in handling rigorous STEM coursework, but STEM refers to more than just content knowledge and understanding. STEM education also involves a process of teaching and learning in which students develop skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, working cooperatively in groups, using technology effectively, and communicating orally and in writing. These STEM competencies are critical for success in any post-secondary setting or work-related field, and all students must work toward mastery in each of them to compete in the ever-changing workplace.

A 2011 report indicated that jobs in STEM will grow from 6.8 million to 8 million by 2018, and that 92% of STEM jobs will require some form of postsecondary education and training (Carnevale, Smith, and Melton 2011). The report also stated that "the demand for STEM-capable workers has increased even in traditionally non-STEM fields due to the diffusion of technology across industries and occupations." This means that nearly every sector of employment our students can hope to attain will require STEM competencies demonstrated at the postsecondary level.

To achieve this outcome, we must work to ensure that all students have the opportunity to complete STEM coursework and participate in STEM experiences that help them develop related skills and competencies. Accordingly, high school educators must work to address the issue of equity and access and ask the difficult questions about why some students are being omitted from upper-level STEM coursework, especially during their final year of high school, when many students have already satisfied state graduation requirements for STEM. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.