As we look at the communities, businesses, and outreach groups that push for participation and representation in STEM, we’re looking at a vision of the future. The elementary school students taking part in STEM field trips and hands-on activities are seeds yet to germinate, seeds that will bloom and form the future phalanx of researchers and engineers and technicians. What exactly are organizations calling for, and what future do young STEM students have to look forward to?
Freedom of Innovation
One of the beautiful parts of STEM is its capacity to help professionals—and students—innovate. Creating unique lab simulations, solving “unsolvable” equations, and creating machines to handle intricate tasks are just some of the ways people in STEM can revolutionize the world. The accessibility of technology is particularly relevant here, as the prices of various STEM-related equipment are lower than they were fifty years ago. Plus, with more variety and the prevalence of social media and information-sharing services, it’s easier than ever to learn and grow and try new things.
Specialized Education and Careers
Interest in STEM does not have to wait until college to shine; academic and after-school institutions for K–12 students are paving the way to a future full of STEM professionals. Many of these after-school programs have specific features, such as focusing on a particular element of STEM (like coding) or catering to an underrepresented group in STEM (such as girls). Private institutions are also hopping on the STEM bandwagon, offering curricula that provide all-around STEM education, equipping students with the tools needed to pursue a technical or scientific degree.
Play and Risk
Take a look at any modern classroom, and you’re bound to see the impact of technology—cell phones used for calculations and Kahoot!, laptops for individual research, and even iPads for hands-on activities. Technology is everywhere, a sign that devices have become more accessible to students. In the future, STEM will continue to offer accessibility, and some believe that it will “invite intentional play and risk” to introduce students to real-world scenarios without real-world detriment. In addition, these new ways of learning align with the various methodologies students require for memorization and general education, offering opportunities to learn that can’t be experienced in a classroom.
Diversity Behind the Scenes
Engaging and accurate creations and studies require diversity of thought. Groups considered minorities in STEM, such as women and non-white individuals, are working to close gender and race gaps in STEM education and industries. And, as more and more individuals from diverse walks of life come together to develop a lab study, engineering project, or technical system, these perspectives will blend and lead to colorful brainstorms and plenty of trials and successes that otherwise would not have come to fruition.