Frequently Asked Questions

What is STEM education?

It is an interdisciplinary approach to learning by combining multiple academic subjects and focusing on real-world lessons. It is about students applying science, technology, engineering and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work and the world around them while moving students forward – creating stronger problem solvers and more creative innovators to lead the global economy.

Is STEM learning only for the classroom?

No, it can take place anywhere. Orlando Science Center provides not only provides material for teachers to use in the classroom, but also provides extensive educational options during field trips and offsite visits where we bring the experience to you. We even provide learning opportunities for you to explore at home with your children, and home school extension opportunities. STEM is also incorporated into multiple programs and exhibits here at the Science Center.

How do I make sure my child receives enough STEM training?

The real key is to get involved and stay engaged in your child’s education. Parents are a child’s first teacher. As children continue their educational journey, parents are often the common denominator guiding them through it. Parents are a valuable asset to promoting student success, especially during the middle school years when kids often become less focused on school and run the risk of disengaging.

There is a variety of ways for parents to engage in their child’s learning including:

  • School-based involvement. This includes serving as a volunteer at school, and maintaining a high level of interaction with your child’s teachers.
  • Home-based involvement. Parental support in learning is never more obvious than when a parent takes the time to assist a child with their homework. Engaging with your child in their academic-related endeavors while at home helps to improve their understanding and reinforces your belief in the importance of that education. Home-based involvement also includes taking advantage of those learning opportunities during vacations, weekend trips and even that afternoon in the park.
How does STEM compare to STEAM?

STEM focuses on science, technology, engineering and math education as a way to build our future economy. STEAM recognizes the innovative contribution of artists and designers, and adds that to STEM to further prepare students for the technology-driven careers that are coming.

My child is already taking a science class — isn’t that STEM?

Not exactly. STEM does include science, but also educates students in technology, engineering and math. This curriculum stresses the interrelationship between the four disciplines. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.

What is a STEM career?

There is an extremely wide range of career opportunities that are available as a result of a solid STEM-based education. Here are some examples.

  • Science – While you may think of a scientist as the guy in a white lab coat performing experiments, science goes beyond the laboratory. Scientists are also involved in teamwork, communication and data analysis. And while many work in labs, many scientists work in offices or even outdoors like a wildlife biologist or geoscientist. Other examples of science careers include agricultural and life sciences, chemists, environmental scientists, engineers, astronomers, and physicists.
  • Technology – This category could include any occupation requiring technical skill, but usually refers to information technology or computer-related occupations. Workers in these occupations use logic, mathematics and computer science to make computers function. Career opportunities include software development, computer system design, programming and database analysis.
  • Engineering – Almost every product you come in contact with is the result of engineering. Engineers use science to solve practical problems. They design, develop, and test new products; they also design, develop and maintain systems ranging from assembly lines to electric power grids. Areas of engineering specialization can include agricultural, civil, electrical, mechanical, aerospace, environmental and petroleum.
  • Math – Many occupations use mathematics, but some focus on it almost exclusively. Career opportunities in this area include insurance actuaries, statistical analysts and operations research. Some even devise or decipher encryption methods to protect confidential information.
What is the economic impact of STEM learning?

A report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee found that the U.S. labor force has a shortage of skilled workers in the science and technology fields. This could have serious repercussions since these fields drive productivity and innovation, further strengthening our economy and ability to compete globally.

The demand for STEM workers is projected to rise in the future, which illustrates the need for more workers with a strong educational foundation in these disciplines. A survey of U.S. manufacturers concluded that one-third were experiencing shortages of engineers and scientists even at the height of the recession.

STEM workers on average experience lower unemployment rates and higher wages due to their strong demand. The unemployment rate for STEM workers peaked at only 5.5 percent in 2009 while the rate for non-STEM occupations continued to climb to 10 percent in 2010. Additionally, STEM workers earned an average 26 percent higher salary than their non-STEM counterparts.

STEM-related skills are not just a source of jobs — they’re also handsomely rewarded. A report in October 2013 from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that 65 percent of those with bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields earn more than master’s degree holders in non-STEM occupations. In fact, 47 percent of bachelor’s degrees in STEM occupations earn more than PhD.s in non-STEM occupations.

What is the Common Core State Standards Initiative?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt. The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit-bearing entry courses in two- and four-year college programs or enter the workforce. The standards are clear and concise to ensure that parents, teachers and students have a clear understanding of the expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language, and mathematics in school.

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