We have talked at length about how STEM is becoming more of a priority. A new study shows that parents are jumping on board with STEM education. The study from The Afterschool Alliance, entitled "Full STEM Ahead: Afterschool Programs Step Up as Key Partners in STEM Education" is based on the 2014 "America After 3PM" survey which has been conducted in 2004, 2009 and 2014 to look at afterschool programs, their enrollment, demographics and subject matter.
While 80% of the afterschool programs studied provided "opportunities for physical activity," only 69% of them provided "STEM learning opportunities." While this may seem like a great statistic, the report also shows tremendous variation in the opportunities that are offered. For example:
- Nearly 60% of children are offered math programs.
- 45% of children in afterschool programs are offered science learning programs although only 43% of elementary school students have access to science programs.
- Only 30% of parents reported that their children had access to technology or engineering programs (26% in elementary schools).
- Only 45% of parents surveyed reported that their child's program offer critical thinking or teamwork.
- 53% of parents surveyed agreed that STEM was important in selecting their child's primary afterschool program (compared with 70% for "Homework Assistance" and 68% for "Physical Activity").
While it's great to see that STEM is becoming a greater priority for parents, the report also points out some glaring differences in the programs offered depending on socio-economic and demographic areas. STEM is important for all children so we hope it continues to become an even greater priority in school and afterschool. And we hope that those programs continue to capture the minds of the youngest students.