According to the 2019 State of Science Index, 37 percent of adults around the world don’t think they need to understand science. However, when you ask adults about their interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education for their children, the results are entirely different.
Globally, 50 percent of parents surveyed would encourage their kids to pursue a career in science. While this bodes well for investment in science education and STEM career training, parents shouldn’t leave it all to the next generation to pick up the slack. If adults have a passion for science, they can keep the spark alive for kids.
And in the U.S., we shouldn’t take science education for granted. According to the Department of Education, only 16 percent of high school seniors are proficient in Math and are interested in STEM. And among industrialized nations, the U.S. is ranked 29 in math and 22nd in science.
It’s clear that students need more access to STEM at home, at school, and in the media. Many children find science intimidating or even scary; adults and educators need to make it fun and accessible.
One resource is the Understanding Science website, which was produced by the UC Museum of Paleontology of the University of California at Berkeley and funded by the National Science Foundation. A group of teachers and scientists built this free resource for students, teachers, and the general public to learn how science works and fits into our daily lives.
And every year 3M partners with Discovery Education for the Young Scientist Challenge which students in grades 5 through 8 are invited to submit a short video explaining a unique solution to an everyday problem. Finalists get $25,000 and a 3M mentorship.
“Nothing inspires me more than seeing the next generation of young scientists using their talent and creativity to solve societal issues,” says Jayshree Seth, Corporate Scientist and chief science advocate (CSA) at 3M.