For the past 25 years, there has been an increased focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States, but that’s just the beginning. According to the Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17 percent from 2008-2018, compared to 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM occupations. Not only has this trend led to increased job opportunities, but it has also produced numerous technological advances that have drastically changed the world. Some of the top innovations that have shaped modern society over the past 25 years include:
World Wide Web. Twenty-five years ago, British scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web (WWW). Before the WWW, the Internet only provided screens of text. It was the WWW that made it possible for pictures, videos and sounds to be displayed and exchanged. Not only did the WWW change the appearance of the Internet, but it also revolutionized how the world received and delivered information. Virtual reality. Virtual reality as it is known today was popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. The technology enables people to experience a computer-simulated environment that resembles things and places in the real world. This cutting-edge technology connects people like never before. VR makes it possible to appear as if you are in the same location as a person far away from you, whether you’re actually 100 miles or 1,000 miles apart.
Hybrid cars. In 1997, improvements in battery technology led to the first mass-produced hybrid car, creating an entirely new market in the car industry. According to a report from the Electric Drive Transportation Association, the United States sold more than 193,000 hybrid cars in 2016 alone. Hybrid cars offer better gas mileage and have lower emissions rates, which helps reduce the carbon footprint.
Controller-free video game consoles. Controller-free video game consoles revolutionized the video game market by transforming the experience into one that’s more active. This technology made it possible for gamers to remotely play a game without a controller, disrupting the gaming industry and leading to an entirely new way for people to engage in physical activity.
By exposing your child to the importance of STEM education early on, he or she could be the next great innovator. Encourage your child to develop an interest in science by entering a science competition, such as the Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision program, the world’s largest K-12 science competition. ExploraVision challenges students to create new ideas for technological innovations inspired by real world issues. To learn more, visit exploravision.org.