With a growing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills gap in Washington state, the importance of STEM education grows every day. OSPI is one of many organizations in Washington, and nationwide, working to improve STEM literacy.
The Importance of STEM
In Recommendations for STEM Education, a workgroup outlined what STEM education will do and why it is important:
- Help produce the capable and flexible workforce needed to compete in a global marketplace.
- Ensure our society continues to make fundamental discoveries and to advance our understanding of ourselves, our planet, and the universe.
- Generate the scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians who will create the new ideas, new products, and entirely new industries of the 21st century.
- Provide the technical skills and quantitative literacy needed for individuals to earn livable wages and make better decisions for themselves, their families and their communities.
- Strengthen our democracy by preparing all citizens to make informed choices in an increasingly technological world.
- Prepare and engage all students no matter their gender, race, or background.
House Bill 1872 (2013) established "a comprehensive initiative to increase learning opportunities and improve educational outcomes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through multiple strategies and statewide partnerships."
STEM literacy is the ability to identify, apply and integrate concepts from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to understand complex problems and to innovate to solve them. STEM literacy is achieved when a student is able to apply his or her understanding of how the world works within and across the four interrelated STEM disciplines to improve the social, economic, and environmental conditions of their local and global community.
Scientific literacy is the ability to use knowledge in physics, chemistry, biology, and earth/space science to understand the natural world and to participate in decisions that affect it.
Technological literacy is the ability to use new technologies, understand how new technologies are developed, and have skills to analyze how new technologies affect us, our nation, and the world.
Engineering literacy is the ability to use the systematic and creative application of scientific and mathematic principles to practical ends, such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, machines, processes, and systems.
Mathematical literacy is the ability to analyze, reason, and communicate ideas effectively through posing, formulating, solving, and interpreting solutions to mathematical problems in a variety of situations.
OSPI STEM Education Support
Washington has various models of successful STEM implementation, and many of these efforts are driven by OSPI through our content areas:
We also make great efforts to connect and collaborate with statewide organizations:
STEM Lighthouse Schools
STEM Lighthouse Schools originated in 2010 with the Legislature's passage of House Bill 2621. The bill directs OSPI to designate elementary, middle, and high schools each year as lighthouse schools.
Grants for STEM Projects
OSPI awards grants through:
Other STEM Resources
Photos courtesy of Washington STEM