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[This is an opinion submitted by Joseph Bostic, Jr Founder Retention Frontiers, Inc. and Samantha Go of Solsolution]

A social worker help improves the quality of life for families, individuals,and communities. Often times, a social worker provides an assessment of one or more systems. A social worker could significantly improve the quality of life by implementing STEM representing (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in their education practices. STEM is a robust and efficient model that offers elements of development and progress for the United States unemployment rate.

As of September, the United States unemployment rate hovered just above 8%, amongst the highest percentages that the U.S. has seen in over 3 decades. With all the media attention on the lack of available jobs in this country, it may come as a surprise that there are actually an abundance of job openings right now. The manufacturing industry currently has over 3 million open jobs but is simply struggling to fill them. Why? America has an extreme scarcity of skilled workers. There simply are not enough people with the capacity to meet the demand of the available jobs.

The heart of the problem lies in the American education system and the minimal emphasis that is placed on the science and technology fields in primary schooling. Students today are simply not motivated or inspired to learn the skills to prepare them for work in these industries. A social worker plays a critical role in validating the readiness for families. Social workers implementing STEM as a resource provides families with skills that other families lack. For example, families would attain critical thinking and problem solving skills from implemented STEM resources. This implementation is a branch of STEM education, which results in opportunities. STEM is a new catchphrase in education transcending in the past few years, and its mission is to help students understand the elements of the natural and designed worlds.

Typically, students are taught mathematics and science in separate classrooms with clear divisions. However, the boundaries between the different disciplines within STEM education are actually blurred. STEM education believes that students should have a certain level of fluency in all four areas. As jobs in the United States and the world in general, become reliant upon science and technology, STEM has become one of the most important education movements to date. A great example of this movement is an individual ability to use the theory of calculus or the theory of trigonometry to solve problems. The difference between calculus and trigonometry are individual’s ability to solve problems and develop sustainable solutions with calculus and trigonometry providing different skill levels. Calculus will help individuals understand changes over a period of time using the theory of derivatives or understanding angles using trigonometry.

One problem is that students are not informed about the opportunities they will have with a proper STEM education. A poll of U.S. high school students found that 44% said that they would be more interested in a career in engineering after they learned that this was the discipline responsible for the release of the Chilean miners in 2010. Students simply don’t understand the extent to which STEM education can offer a wide variety of careers that extend far beyond the stereotypical image of lab technician or research scientist, which can seem intense, daunting, or even just boring.

In order to prevent these opportunities from passing students by any longer, STEM education needs to be encouraged at a young age and maintained throughout the education process. Social workers aligning with organizations similar to SolSolution and Retention Frontiers understanding STEM will increase students and families’ opportunities to succeed.

Thankfully, a movement for more STEM education may spark a newfound interest in our schools soon. Examples of recent attempts and initiatives include Sesame Street’s focus on STEM education for their upcoming 2011-2012 season. Social workers implementing STEM in their “Social Mechanisms” model will engage all families and improve their opportunities to succeed.


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