Reaping the Harvest: The Challenge of STEM in America's Rural Areas

Based on 2010 Census data, 19.3% of the U.S. population reside in rural areas. That’s nearly 60 million people. That’s a lot.

What often gets forgotten in the glitz and glamour of the big cities are the students who are raised in the country’s non-metropolitan regions. Unfortunately, this has led to a deficiency of adequate STEM education in these areas. Persistent challenges include a shortage of qualified teachers, budget cuts, and a lack of extracurricular resources. Most importantly, there may also simply be a lack of enthusiasm among rural students for STEM.

These issues are detailed in a report released in 2014 by The Pittsburgh-based Chevron Center for STEM Education and Career Development titled "Work to Do: The Role of STEM Education in Improving the Tri-State Region's Workforce," which focuses on STEM education in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.

Possibly even more alarming, the report also found that STEM subjects are perceived to be out of reach for rural students; Believing the relevance of advanced science and math courses to be limited to four-year college bound students.

So here’s the good news: educational entities and other non-profit organizations have stepped up to help change the rural STEM paradigm. With a critical need for STEM training in rural areas, organized efforts all around the country to supply teachers, provide curricula, and promote extracurricular involvement in STEM subjects.

Here’s some even better news: the STEM Premier platform allows students everywhere - not just in the big cities -  to showcase their talent. So as educators seek to enhance STEM education in rural America, we seek to enhance these student’s visibility every day.

Every student deserves to be seen.