Jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields are growing at a much faster pace than the overall job market, but many people balk at the mention of math or science. Others think there's a "math gene." To combat negative attitudes toward STEM and the notion that you're born mathematically or scientifically inclined, the Carnegie Science Center, the Math and Science Collaborative, FedEx Ground, and WTAE TV have launched a community awareness campaign called "Math + Science = Success."
The intimidation surrounding STEM and resulting low numbers of people studying the fields has led to the U.S. losing ground around the world.
"We rank 27th among developed nations in the proportion of students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering and a startling 48th in the quality of math and science education," said Ann Metzger, co-director of the Carnegie Science Center.
Through online resources, public service messages, and events for parents and students, the awareness campaign hopes to encourage students to enroll in higher level math and science courses. It further seeks to emphasize that anyone can, and should, learn math and science.
Metzger said it's important because there is a tremendous need for a workforce trained in STEM fields nationally and internationally. "We have about 2,000 unfilled jobs today in this region that require STEM-related skills, and it's estimated that there will be as many as 200,000 over the next decade that require STEM skills," Metzger said.
Through the partnership, WTAE officials said they will conduct surveys of adults in the region to find out if there is greater awareness and changed attitudes. The television station will track the number of students in math and science to see if those increase.
Vincention Academy Senior Natalie Nash knows first-hand the importance of science. She's won numerous science awards and said an early start and strong parental support are important. "With a solid foundation in math and science from an early age, children will be able to pursue whatever they're interested in in a scientific direction and ultimately end up successful," Nash said.