MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Nov. 6 through 12 is National S.T.E.M. Week, a week meant to inspire young people to explore and pursue interests in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
"We have so many people who believe the stereotypes that S.T.E.M. is not accessible to everyone, but it really just teaches you how to critically think, how to gather information about a problem, assess a problem," explained Dr. Michelle Foster, Coordinator of the Mathematics Program at Alabama State University. ASU has a week of events and activities planned in honor of National S.T.EM. Week.
Alabama State University is hosting a whole week of events and activities is planned in honor of National S.T.E.M. Week.
"We want to pique interest in those students who may not have been exposed to the different things," said Dr. Audrey Napier, Professor of Biology at ASU. "And it's not all about just being in the classroom and academics."
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, about 6.1 percent of all workers in the united states are in S.T.E.M. occupations; that's up from 5.5 percent five years ago. Of the U.S. Labor Department's 10 fastest growing occupations, nearly all of them are S.T.E.M careers.
"Most of the jobs that are projected to see serious increases are in S.T.E.M. disciplines," Dr. Foster said. "We're talking about projections over the next 10 years, where you're looking at 15 percent growth in some of these fields, you're looking at salaries that are starting at $63,00 and that's a median salary."
The United States has fallen behind other nations in science and math education, so National S.T.E.M. Week is a way to motivate young people to pursue these subjects and keep up with the rest of the world. And it's important to motivate ALL young people, especially girls. Experts say closing the gender gap in S.T.E.M. related careers is critical to the future earning potential for women.
"The fact that women don't really hear about it at early ages, you hear about medical doctors, but when you're talking about going into engineering, or clinical research, or basic research, there's not a lot of exposure, but we're improving on that," Dr. Napier said. "It's important to get females more engaged in the stem areas because a lot of the issues that are associated with women can be better addressed by women. "
Wednesday is named National S.T.E.M. day. The Nov. 8 date is a play on words. When written NOV8, it's pronounced "innovate".
For more ways to recognize National S.T.E.M. Week and National S.T.E.M. day, click here.