The importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in the nation’s K-12 classrooms is growing each year. Recent figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that nearly 80 percent of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States depend on workers trained in STEM subjects.
Demand for STEM-trained workers is expected to rise over the next decade as U.S. industries work to preserve the nation’s status as a global leader in technology and innovation. That’s why so many middle school and high schools are stepping up their STEM offerings.
Industries that will see the greatest increase in the number of STEM jobs over the next 10 years, according to the BLS, include:
- Health care
- Computer science
When putting together their lesson plans, teachers are well advised to include technology in their STEM toolbox. A good tech tool to start with is the “STEM Mobile Labs” educational app for smartphones and digital tablets.
How it works
The “STEM Mobile Labs” app has a simple, intuitive interface that provides a digital gateway to the Internet for students searching for educational apps to supplement their STEM studies.
The app is an excellent guide to some of the best STEM-focused apps designed for students in grades 8-12. It was developed by The Wireless Foundation, a nonprofit organization that uses mobile technology and innovative software to empower individuals and enhance American communities. Launching the app calls up an animated display of four doors labeled Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. To enter a subject area, students simply tap the door they want to open. Behind each door is a richly animated desktop focusing on each STEM area.
By scrolling down the page, students will find a list of free STEM-focused educational apps with detailed descriptions and direct links for downloading them. The apps have been reviewed for quality and usability for middle school and high school students.
Apps in each subject area are divided into categories. For example, in the science area, students will find educational apps for space, earth and environmental sciences, along with chemistry and physics.
Categories in the math area include graphing, problem solving, economics and tutorials. Under engineering, students will find apps for civil, mechanical, design and aerospace engineering. Finally, technology categories include links to apps for medical, information, energy, electronics and public safety technology.
In all, there are links to more than 20 STEM-focused digital educational apps available for free downloading from Google Play, the Amazon app store and iTunes.
Once the “STEM Mobile Labs” app has been downloaded into a device, it can be used anywhere without an Internet connection. However, an Internet connection is needed to follow links to external websites included in the app and to download recommended educational apps.
Teachers can choose custom lesson plans and student activity sheets created specifically for use with the “STEM Mobile Labs” app. They are free and can be downloaded at the Young Minds Inspired website.
The STEM Mobile Labs app is free and can be downloaded through Google Play, the Amazon app store or iTunes. It’s compatible with smartphones and tablets running the Android operating system 2.3.3 or later. Apple users can play the app on iPhone and iPad tablets running iOS version 5.0 or later.Learn More: Click to view related resources.
- "Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM)," California Department of Education
- "STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future," U.S. Department of Commerce