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In an increasingly technology focused economy, STEM is touted as the way forward. From politicians to industry leaders, there is a huge emphasis on STEM education as a way to increase employment and keep our economy moving at its current velocity. Tim Bajarin, writing for PC Mag, argues that not only is this true, but that maker culture is the key to making this happen.

The maker movement comes at one of the most critical times in our history. When I was in school in the 1960s, we were not prepared for a tech-focused world. My elective classes were auto shop, drafting, and metal shop; I even took a home economics class. These courses were designed to prepare us for blue collar jobs. Of course, these types of jobs still exist today but in the information age, most jobs now incorporate at least some technology.

It’s hard to argue that a big swing to STEM isn’t needed to keep pace with the rapid growth of technology, but it’s a lot easier said than done and a big factor that nobody talks about is interest. We may need more people focused on STEM, but what if would be engineers and technologists aren’t yet keen on it? If the issue is exposure, or a failure of imagination, the maker movement helps open eyes and doors.

The maker movement and these faires help kids get interested in STEM and STEAM (which throws in art and design) and introduce them to the idea that anyone can be a “maker.”

[A] speaker who caught my attention was Janelle Wellons. After graduating from MIT, she landed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she works as mission operations engineer on the Cassini, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), and Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) missions. Kids in the audience were spellbound listening to her tell them that anyone can achieve their goals if they put their minds to it.

This is age old wisdom, but buried in this is the key: because of exposure to the maker world and the maker mentality, people, and especially kids, start to learn about the possibilities that our world can offer them, and gives them a chance to find interests that they didn’t even know they had.

Read the whole post here.