STEM is all around us! We are continually experimenting in labs, technology bombards our day-to-day lives, engineering surrounds us in the form of roads and bridges, and we all use maths in some way everyday! In this article we're looking at STEM in the school curriculum, what you'll learn from STEM subjects and what this will mean for your future.
What does STEM mean for me and what subjects should I take at school?
As you probably know by now, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths and refers to any subjects that fall into one of these categories. There are loads of STEM subjects that you can do at school, you’re probably studying some of them right now! STEM subjects are so important because they form the foundation of so many careers, not just scientists or engineers! Even if you’re not planning a career in STEM, these kinds of subjects can give you so many transferable skills which are relevant for other lines of work.
In terms of getting down to the nitty-gritty of choosing subjects - the answer to this depends on what you want you want to do! However, there are specific subjects you need to study if there is a specific career you want to pursue. If you want to be a Doctor you need to study Biology, if you want to be an Architect you need to study Maths, and if you want to be a Space Scientist you need to study Physics! We’ve pulled together some common school STEM subjects and looked at what they are, what you can go on to do and what skills you'll gain from studying them at school.
Biology is the study of living organisms and their structure, life-cycles, adaptations and environment. There are loads of career paths if you take Biology at school – you don’t need to become a Biologist! Biology is a key subject for a lot of STEM jobs, including things like healthcare and jobs involving plants and animals. It’s also useful for jobs like physiotherapy, psychology and teaching. As well as gaining knowledge all this biological, you’ll also develop research, problem solving and analytical skills, and as you often work in groups in Biology you’ll gain skills in team work too!
Maths is the study of numbers, patterns, calculations, shapes and equations. It is the language of logic and problem solving. It’s a core subject in schools so it’s likely you’ll study it up to Nat 4/5 and maybe Higher and Advanced Higher too! Maths is central to many of the skills that are required in the modern workforce and there are loads of possibilities if you study Maths at school and beyond. Maths is a key subject for a lot of STEM jobs, including the obvious things like accounting, finance and engineering, but also data journalism and health care systems. Most organisations expect the analytical and reasoning skills that form 'mathematical thinking'. In addition to gaining specific knowledge of scientific, mathematic and abstract problems, you'll also gain skills in planning projects, presenting data and managing budgets.
Computing Science is the study of computers and computing concepts which includes hardware and software. At school Computing Science brings together parts of technology, science and creative digital media, and you’ll learn about things like different computer languages, coding, algorithms and much more! There are lots of roles you can look into if you enjoy Computing at school including being an App Developer, an Ethical Hacker or working in Cyber Security. As well as the core course knowledge you’ll gain through school you will also gain lots of skills in analytical thinking, but also in creativity and communication as you brainstorm ideas and speak to others about computing (who might not be as savvy as you)!
Design and Manufacture
Design and Manufacture is the study of planning, designing and making products which people use. At school, Design and Manufacture classes are a mix between technology and creativity and will focus on gaining a broad and practical experience in product design and manufacture. There are lots of career paths using your skills in design – you don’t need to become an Inventor! If you want to work in this area you could be a Fashion Designer, Architect, Product Designer or a Software Engineer. As well as the practical knowledge you’ll gain in product design you’ll also be able to enhance your creativity, problem solving and planning skills.
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