The critical need for STEM education was apparent before our world experienced the COVID-19 outbreak, and now, STEM skills are more important than ever as we navigate through a pandemic.
Our global health crisis highlights the critical role of STEM education and how strong our economy and health will be in the future. Will there be short and long term impacts to this new way of living until a vaccination or treatments can be developed? Of course. However, there has never been a time to appreciate the fundamentals and benefits of having a strong representation in STEM careers, particularly in the healthcare industry.
Medical professionals, scientists, and researchers are leveraging their STEM education to find solutions to better understand the virus with the goal of developing a vaccine. Similar to STEM education and robotics, the pandemic revealed that innovative thinking, problem solving, and tenacity are intrinsically linked.
STEM education is having a second awakening and this is no time to lose momentum. For leaders in education, the time is now to either strengthen or build an infrastructure that allows young educators to gain a wide range of skills to help them pursue a fulfilling career. This outbreak highlights that we live in an ever-changing and complex environment. Without the foundation of STEM education and hands-on learning, our country will lack the knowledge and skills to make critical decisions.
While STEM education has shifted dramatically over the last couple months, educators are increasing their efforts to make the most of remote learning and are keeping students on a steady track for academic success. Teachers are another example of heroism during these challenging times.
By embracing online learning as a tool for advancing STEM, we can continue to offer more opportunities for a broader range of people regardless of where they live. As online learning ushers in a new wave of opportunity for education, it can also be a powerful tool for building critical skills for students. More so, nonprofit organizations and companies are donating substantial funds, free resources, and tools to help create an engaging home learning environment.
Now is the time to plan for more in-depth STEM education programming, access, and equity. Given that the government is not able to fund all STEM education to needed levels, companies from all industries must step in to ensure students have the opportunity to be a part of the valuable learning experience. Parents and teachers are the conduit to sparking this interest, and it is our industry’s responsibility to help develop stimulating programs for students so they can inspire and train the next generation of leaders.
Leaders among industries have the opportunity to be on the forefront of propelling education, research, and development of initiatives to help hone talent and improve the U.S. economy. While companies and nonprofits continue to make progress for STEM education, my hope is that our country establishes a more formal and unified nationwide STEM curriculum to foster a life-long dedication to exploring its varied subjects.
As we move forward, the pandemic will be a difficult memory, but I believe it will be the impetus of placing greater importance, resources, and funding to create the most capable community of innovators and problem solvers. After all, society continues to require STEM skills, so our work is not–and will never be–done.
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