Encouraging STEM in the Middle Schools

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Just what is the STEM shortage of employees and what does it mean for our youth?   First, what is STEM and a STEM education. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. It is a way of thinking, it is a way of encouraging students to integrate knowledge across disciplines, encouraging them to think in a more connected and holistic way.

Many reasons lie behind this shortage.  Many of our youth do not know what careers can be found in this field.  A common misconception they have is that they can only be mechanical or computer engineers, which seem boring to kids.  Opening up their minds is the first start. They need to know that there are numerous careers in this field, everything from aerospace engineers, game designers to math teachers.  Even what people used to think is old-fashioned manufacturing now requires a whole new set of skills that are STEM based.

The shortage affects various industries, with the manufacturing section alone predicted to need about 3.5 million jobs by 2025.  With the current trend up to 2 million of these position might go unfilled due to the difficulty of finding qualified workers.

Regardless of a child’s age, it is important to encouraging an interest in STEM.  It is particularly crucial during middle school years. In general, many middle schoolers begin to consider possible career options.  Their opinions regarding STEM subjects will be taken through to further years. Experiences they have will dramatically impact their perception of these careers and classes.  Children are naturally curious. They question everything around them, looking for clues and answers to why the world is the way it is. However in middle school this curiosity begins to wane.  

To offset this lack of interest schools have begin to make STEM subjects fun, exciting and hands on.

Morrison Tech has recognized this lack of interest and are implementing their own strategy to excite these students.  Four years ago Morrison rolled out their 7th Grade STEM day. For five hours 7th graders get to explore STEM courses by participating in 6 activities.  The students engage in various hands-on activities including: principles of building design, design process/prototype, micro controller programming, robotics, manufacturing activities, construction materials and engineering a bridge design.

The 7th Graders learn in combined groups how engineering technicians help society and what role they play in the engineering field. Alongside the hands-on activities the students apply engineering skills such as: collaboration, problem solving, creativity and critical thinking skills.

“Our goal is to take this decisive time in their lives and open their eye to STEM.“ Chris Scott, President, said “Introducing this age group to hands on activities relating to STEM can definitely sway their decisions for classes to take in High School.  Hopefully this day does just that.”

Most recently 7th graders from East Coloma- Nelson and Prophetstown participated in this event at the college.  The college hosts 600+ students each year.

There is such a need for STEM workers that now many big companies such as Google and Apple are willing to consider workers without a traditional college degree as long as they can prove they have the required skills.

Morrison Tech is such a college that delivers that.  Morrison is a two year premier Technology College where an Associates Degree in Engineering Technology and Network Administration is awarded.  The students receive concentrated coursework. Coursework that eliminates humanities classes and replaces them with upper college level courses in their specific field.  Currently the college boast a 97% career placement rate with an average starting salary of $47,000. To receive additional information about Morrison Tech and the programs we offer please click here.