PTA Convention 2016 LogoScience, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers are in the news a lot these days, and with good reason. STEM jobs will grow 17% by 2018, and over the next ten years, STEM job opportunities will grow 55% faster than non-STEM jobs. Despite this growth, the US is likely to see 2.4 million STEM jobs remain unfilled during the next decade because we are producing far fewer STEM-trained students than there are opportunities. In addition to this lack of students ready to go into STEM fields, women and minorities are significantly underrepresented in STEM.

According to a recent National PTA survey, parents and teachers almost unanimously agree that hands-on science-based education is a great way to encourage students, especially girls and minorities, to take an interest in science. Parents also say that they play the biggest role in stimulating their child’s interest in science, but nearly one-third of them don’t feel confident enough in their scientific knowledge to help their children in science.

A New Initiative

To address the need for additional STEM education opportunities and to help families engage with their children in STEM activities, National PTA has created the STEM + Families Initiative. Partnering with Bayer and Mathnasium, National PTA plans to provide 100,000 STEM experiences for families by June 2018. National PTA has created a video to introduce the initiative.

Everyone, from PTA leaders to community members, who cares about STEM education, can take the STEM + Families Pledge to connect to the initiative and receive more information as it becomes available. National PTA has also provided some easy ways that families can begin to engage in STEM activities at home with their children. You can also read more about the initiative in a short summary piece and a longer white paper that covers the research that led to this initiative.