By Mia Colloredo-Mansfeld and Kayla Merriweather
In the past ten years, major technological advancements and innovations like 3D printing, smartphones and smarter wind and solar technology have made an extensive impact on society, making various industries faster and more efficient than ever. With books, newspapers, magazines, movies and music available digitally, things like bookstores, movie rentals and CDs have virtually become a thing of the past. In addition to these services and products becoming extinct, various jobs will cease to exist as well.
The Washington Post released an article on Jan. 5, 2015 predicting that in ten years, artificial intelligence will replace jobs currently occupied by humans. Occupations that do not require significant cognitive ability, like telemarketers, postal service workers, data entry clerks, sewing machine operators and the like are the jobs most likely to be supplanted by robots.
In anticipation of the changing job market, schools and other organizations are placing a greater emphasis on introducing technology into the classroom and developing programs around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The week of Dec. 8-14 was National Computer Science Education Week, during which more than 15 million children around the world participated in a movement called Hour of Code. The goal of the movement is to give a one-hour introduction to the basics of coding and to simplify it in a way that makes it easy for everyone to understand.
Across the globe children participated in this event, including students at Estes Hills and Ephesus Elementary. Using tutorials targeted at different grade and skill levels, students from kindergarten to fifth grade spent an hour learning about code in the context of creating basic apps to learn about programming and computer science.
“Our vision and focus at Estes Hills is on preparing all students for a successful future,” said Estes Hills Elementary School principal Drew Ware. “I believe that including computer science and programing as part of the educational experience provides students an opportunity to be creative, critical thinkers.”
The Hour of Code was well received by the Estes Hills Community and Ware says they plan on participating in the event every year and are also looking for more opportunities to incorporate programming into the curriculum.
“Not only is it highly likely that computer skills will be more necessary for future careers; but it is absolutely certain that all students will need to be able to create, critically think, collaborate, and communicate to be successful in any career,” Ware said. “These 21st century skills are certainly necessary in the field of computer science and are also imperative in a myriad of other professions.”
Another organization that has taken an initiative in introducing STEM into schools, is Project Lead The Way (PLTW). This organization is the top provider of STEM programs in the nation. East has joined in this initiative, offering two sets of PLTW courses, Biomedical Science and Engineering. In the first year of the engineering course, students learn about the design process and how to draft. In the next level, they apply what they learn in small projects or are given a design challenge and have to use what they know to come up with the best solution. Thus developing the vital skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.
According to U.S. News’ Rick Newman, ten businesses likely to flourish in 2020 include counseling and therapy, veterinary medicine, environmental and conservation science, finance, entrepreneurship, computer engineering, data crunching, management, healthcare and scientific research. These careers exemplify the need for students to develop the skills of working together and looking for creative solutions to problems. In an age of constant technological improvements and modernization, flexibility and creativity are imperative.