STEM is All Around Us

STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It is not an easy thing to define. But when you think about it, STEM is all around us.

 

It is more than the equations you learn in school and the laws of physics, chemistry and biology. I still remember the equations Velocity = Distance / Time, and the chains of carbon. And learning about how the motion of a robot arm can be defined using matrix algebra. My late sister, a doctor, and I, a mechanical engineer, would discuss how a check valve in the proper location could ease the pain caused by her kidneys, both of us staying up all hours of the night trying to figure out how to do it. Solving problems that can help all of us…

 

STEM is all around us.

 

Check this out – I saw the movie, The Martian, where a stranded astronaut has to learn how to survive in the harshest of environments on Mars, where he creates a farm within his habitat using rocket fuel as a source of water and the Martian soil to grow food. But more interesting is the story of his rescue. How an African-American mathematician develops the navigation for the astronaut’s teammates to retrieve him. How a Chinese engineer and his colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory create the hardware that leads to his rescue. And, the captain of his ship is a woman…

 

STEM is all around us.

 

From a historical perspective, people of color have led the technological race in all fields. Who created the traffic light? Who was the city planner of Washington D.C.? Who created the lubrication tools for locomotives? Where did celestial navigation come from? Who was responsible for blood transfusions? That is just for starters. If you decide to study STEM, you will be following the traditions of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics that go back to antiquity…

 

STEM is all around us.

 

Still have doubts? Have you ever considered that the photosynthesis process creates the oxygen that you breathe? Or, that the spectrum of light transmits signals to your cell phone? Or, that a piece of coding can control a plane flying faster than the speed of sound?

 

Speaking of aviation – Have you thought about how a simple equation by a Swiss mathematician and physicist allowed us to understand flight? Can you imagine, on a hot day, that the concept of air conditioning and refrigeration was developed by the same person who helped Thomas Edison create the light bulb?

 

STEM is all around us.

Studying STEM is not for cowards. It will require discipline and hard work throughout your life. Even now, as I enter a new chapter of my career, I am still learning new things in programming and systems engineering. STEM forces you to continuously expand upon the things we learn, to apply lessons from the past to propel us into the future.

 

Join the fun, exciting world of STEM. It will challenge you, but you will have more fun than you can imagine.

 

STEM is all around us.

 

By Lee Whiteman, STEM Specialist

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