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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Oh, the Places You'll Go! Cool Jobs in Math and Science (Guest Blogger)

Today's guest blogger is Linda Rosen, the CEO of Change the Equation. She has over 35 years of experience helping to develop and implement innovative, strategic frameworks and policies that support high quality STEM teaching and learning, grades PreK-16. She has taught mathematics and mathematics education from high school through graduate school.

It's time for some good news for a change. It may be hard to believe at a time when almost one in ten Americans are out of work, but there will be jobs -- great jobs, exciting jobs, jobs that pay well -- for those who have a strong command of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The bad news? Far too many U.S. students aren't getting the skills they'll need to do those jobs. That news is especially hard to swallow at a time when good jobs seem so scarce and so precious.

To catch a glimpse of the opportunities in STEM, you need look no farther than the world's most innovative companies. That's why Change the Equation (CTEq) launched a ground-breaking contest among such companies to show just how cool jobs that require STEM can be. Our "STEM is Cool!" contest challenged companies to create brief videos that show their employees using STEM skills in exciting or unexpected ways. Many of our more than 110 corporate members are on the cutting edge of science and technology, so they know better than just about anyone how bright the future can be for students who excel in math and science.

They also have a large stake in improving STEM learning in the United States. Government data show that almost all of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require a solid background in STEM. Yet a study out of Georgetown University predicts that we'll face a big shortage of U.S. workers with college degrees by 2018. What's worse, only 43 percent of U.S. 2010 high school graduates were ready for college work in math, and a mere 29 percent were ready in science. As the most recent PISA findings demonstrate, high schoolers from the world's highest-performing countries are leaving ours in their dust.

The videos submissions we got did not disappoint. They show people doing creative, fun and engrossing work. They show them using their ingenuity and new technologies to take on some of the world's most pressing challenges. Their work seems miles and miles away from the stereotypes evoked by lab coats or actuarial tables.

Let's hope these videos can help penetrate the gloom that has settled over so much of the country. It's still a time of tremendous opportunity for our students. American ingenuity can still solve big problems and secure a better future for our children. But we need to get many more of our young people on a path towards higher achievement in the STEM fields, regardless of what career they choose when they're older.

So watch the videos, and vote for the one you like best. Tell your friends to watch and vote, too. Spread the news about how exciting a career in STEM can be. Hurry! Voting ends on December 19th.

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