“We’re in the early days of the Internet. Every other industry will be eaten by tech,” says Paul Buchheit in a recent New York Times Magazine article about startups. Buchheit was Google’s 23rd employee and helped develop AdSense and Gmail.
If Buchheit is right, that means that every single American worker is going to need to know something about the so-called STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math), no matter what the job.
Had you told this to my 14 year-old self, I probably would have started crying. If you had also told me that I would grow up to host a show called New Tech City, I probably would have started laughing. I liked novels, not computers.
But teachers are starting to teach STEM subjects differently these days with Legos, games, and real world examples. And yet, it’s still not enough. Check out these statistics from Change the Equation about how the US is falling behind.
So we’ll be talking specifically about what makes teaching STEM so tough at The Greene Space on Tuesday, May 21. I’m co-hosting the event with WNYC’s Beth Fertig of Schoolbook. The focus will be on NYC K-12 schools and we’ll ask: what techniques DO work? How can teachers and parents insure our kids succeed and enjoy learning STEM subjects?
Panelists include the Deputy Chief Academic Officer for the DOE, educators from NYU/Polytechnic University who have dedicated themselves to working with younger kids, and of course, teachers, who will actually demonstrate some of their methods for getting their students psyched to learn.
And we will also discuss how we can all better explain, to the older kids especially, WHY everyone needs a STEM education. Here’s an example given by Pubmatic President Kirk McDonald in a Wall Street Journal op-ed called, “Sorry, College Grads, I Probably Won’t Hire You”:
“Suppose you’re sitting in a meeting with clients, and someone asks you how long a certain digital project is slated to take. Unless you understand the fundamentals of what engineers and programmers do…any answer you give is a guess and therefore probably wrong. Even if your dream job is in marketing or sales or another department seemingly unrelated to programming, I’m not going to hire you unless you can at least understand the basic way my company works.”
Send the link to this article to any high school kid you know. When I was in college, a warning like that might have convinced me to transfer out of Advanced Watercolor to Beginner Computer Science.