About STEM - Part 1


Understand STEM.

We all know stem as part of a plant/tree. The part that connects the leaves to the roots. That’s the stem we are used to, the stem that we all know. Many may wonder am I about to elaborate a tree or a plant part by mentioning stem.  However, that’s not nearly what I intend to bring to you in this fascinating knowledgebank blog. Although to be honest, wearing my gums as a botanist, that plant stem we all know, describing about it scientifically can be really interesting trust me, but still that’s not what I wish to narrate to you all today.

STEM is a short abbreviation of the words Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The four letters that make STEM word are derived from the first letters of these words. This STEM acronym was introduced in 2001 by scientific administrators at the U.S National Science Foundation (NSF). The organization previously used the acronym SMET when referred to the career field in those disciplines or a curriculum that integrated knowledge and skills from those fields. In 2001 however, a female American biologist named Judith Ramaley from the NSF rearranged the words to form the STEM acronym. Since then STEM focused curriculum has been extended to many countries and the entire world. That is the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics curriculum.

This is the STEM we are to talk about, the fields, careers and disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM!

I personally term these as pillars to global progress and development. We should all see it that way. Our world and daily lives revolve around STEM, most of the world’s problems and solutions are incorporated in STEM. Let me be precise, in science and technology among all. If more of the world’s population would realize the portion that STEM covers and the role it plays in our daily endeavors and therefore engage themselves more into STEM careers and disciplines, then most global problems wouldn’t have been problems and solutions would even be better and easier to go about. For instance, currently the world is facing several challenges that threat the later today immensely even bringing continents to come about with global goals to address the problems, I say only if the world had more STEM takers who understood the dynamics behind and lead from where they are diversely in  a STEMatic manner, things wouldn’t have been the same.

STEM disciplines and careers have been for long viewed as very tough and maybe undoable fields by some. It is true that they may seem very comprehensive; however, they are doable, interesting, fun and even easy if done with love. STEM disciplines and careers have a lot of empty space needed to be filled by people of every gender, age, race and even levels of understanding/ education. Any gap in filling these spaces can lower the pace of development in that particular group of people left behind. All men and women, whites and blacks, adults and young people should be taught to grow in STEM rather than being motivated after the gap is realistic. Because only then do they realize the importance and the easiness it has after they learn while growing in it.

In most developed countries, there’s high number of people in STEM fields starting from lower level learning institutions. This I can say has fastened their race and progress for development. In most cases, the brilliant solutions they have to different social, economic and political problems that made life easier to them being termed developed have been incorporated with Science or Technology. This was only made possible because they grew in STEM, We are not saying their side is perfect, there are gaps in engagement despite the success. My pledge is we grow in STEM, we are not late, our young generation can be a generation of STEM practitioners, lets induce it into them.

Being a STEM taker does not need you to have a bachelor, a PhD, a Masters or even a Diploma in those fields. It’s the innovative, creative and ideal solution you have of a problem facing your community which by any means would require STEM knowledge, and that, you can get from any STEM professional and bring your idea to life, See?! It can be done, there are different examples of brilliant tech ideas working, growing and influencing the world right now that were never developed by a degree/ Masters/ PhD holder of any STEM field/ profession. There are lots of references in this, a lot that you yourself can relate to right now.

Just so I bring it closer to your perspective, let me not go far and share this one example of an innovative and fascinating lady that brought her idea into life despite the fact that she was never a STEM professional. Her idea was to make education easier to access for every child in her community with the best learning materials and freely. She uses digital technology to deliver education service and many children to teachers to educational institutions are benefiting from it right now. She has become a solution, she uses STEM to solve education access problem, she was never a STEM taker, however now, NOW, she is not only a STEM practitioner but a pro in STEM. Just to bold the fact that STEM can be done and done by all regardless of gender, age, race and education level, this amazing woman is  an African, a Tanzanian, a female and an adult. Her name is Faraja Nyalandu with her STEMATIC idea ShuleDirect. I believe this has opened your mind of what STEM is and that everyone can be engaged.

So imagine if many other people would come up and confront their brilliant ideas despite them not being STEM professionals or even us knowing and leading the young generation in loving and practicing STEM and eventually grow in STEM, how many ideal solutions would we have created for our communities and continent? Many.

Now this, is STEM. Development!

By Hellen Kidatu-Stem Activist

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