By Heather Waldron
STEM skills are becoming increasingly important in a variety of fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for STEM occupations in the U.S. is more than twice that of non-STEM occupations and STEM Occupations are projected to grow by 8.0 % between 2019 and 2029, compared with 3.4% projected growth for non-STEM occupations. Additionally, the Colorado Talent Pipeline reports the majority of the top 10 highest growing occupations in the Denver Metro area are STEM-aligned careers, from IT, to Statisticians, to veterinarians; our students will need STEM knowledge and skills to fill these projected openings. Jeffco students have the potential to solve the world's greatest and most complex problems, and a high quality STEM education will allow them to develop the knowledge and skills to turn those ideas into reality.
Jeffco Schools currently offers numerous STEM programs for students throughout our district. Some are vendor specific, such as Creative Learning Systems or Project Lead the Way, however many are teacher developed programs that pull together a variety of resources. The common thread across all STEM programs should be the emphasis on transferable STEM specific skills such as defining problems and designing solutions. (See STEM Skills in Figure 1). These unifying STEM skills have been taken from Next Generation Science Standards Science and Engineering Practices. They are applicable across STEM careers, intersect with core content, and are directly aligned to state legislation allowing for a STEM Endorsed Diploma upon high school graduation.
Figure 1: Transferable STEM skills (see NGSS SEPs) apply to a variety of STEM-Aligned Career Pathways.
STEM content and skills are emphasized for students PK-12 in core content courses through inquiry and phenomena-based science, complex tasks in mathematics that emphasize standards of mathematical practice, and computer science and engineering design integration across disciplines. In addition to core content, secondary students have the opportunity to engage in industry aligned career pathways that develop the academic, technical, and professional skills necessary for a successful future in STEM.
Figure 2: K-12 progression of STEM programming
For questions or support please contact Jeffco STEM Coordinator, Heather Waldron.
Curriculum & Instruction