What is STEM education?
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education is an integrated, interdisciplinary, and student-centered approach to learning that encourages curiosity, creativity, artistic expression, collaboration, computational thinking, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and design thinking.
Why is STEM education important?
Businesses are growing in Pennsylvania, and they want skilled and well-educated workers who are prepared for the 21st century economy. Students need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to enter the workforce and be successful in a tech-driven, global economy.
- There will be 590,000 new and replacement jobs in Pennsylvania through 2026, with STEM jobs growing at over 9 percent.
- Over the next ten years, 71 percent of new jobs will require computer science skills.
- Currently, there are more than 17,000 unfilled computer science and software development jobs in Pennsylvania with an average salary of $85,000.
- STEM, health, and business majors generally earn the highest salaries, with graduates earning an average annual wage of $37,000 or more at entry level and an average of $65,000 or more annually over the course of their career.
- Research shows STEM instruction and majors offer benefits in a student's postsecondary career, even if that student does not necessarily pursue a STEM career.
STEM in Pennsylvania
STEM education in Pennsylvania is built on the following foundational beliefs:
- all students are capable of STEM literacy;
- iteration and reflection are an important part of the STEM learning process;
- STEM education transcends the classroom walls, integrating into the community; and
- success depends upon the partnership between educators, students, families, postsecondary providers, legislators, business, and industry.
Under Governor Tom Wolf's leadership, Pennsylvania has become a national leader in STEM and computer science education. The Wolf Administration has helped to establish a strong and innovative culture for STEM learning by strengthening STEM experiences for all students, supporting professional development for educators, and forming diverse partnerships across the commonwealth.
The Pennsylvania STEM Coalition is a statewide, cross-sector network representing more than 430 stakeholders with a focus on equitable access to STEM learning experiences for every learner, from early childhood to higher education.
Pennsylvania's State Board of Education acted on the Wolf Administration's request to make computer science education available to all students in the commonwealth by endorsing Computer Science Teacher Association (CSTA) K-12 Standards. The resolution provides for the implementation of standards on computer science education in the commonwealth, and will position Pennsylvania as one of fewer than a dozen states to endorse such standards. Additionally, the CSTA standards will enable Pennsylvania to develop its Computer Science Certifications Pathways and will provide guidance on ways students can apply a computer science course toward a math or science graduation credit under Act 86 of 2016.
Pennsylvania is a nationally-recognized leader in STEM education for its five regional STEM ecosystems and their collaborative efforts. STEM learning ecosystems encompass schools, businesses, and community settings - this includes after-school and summer programs, science centers, libraries, museums, and other environments to constitute a rich array of learning opportunities.
The PAsmart initiative is a new and innovative investment in STEM education and job training, and it includes $20 million in grant funding for STEM and computer science education.