Updated: 09.10.2013

Why STEM? Why NASA?

Education – it is one of those things we have all taken for granted at some point in our lives. As young children, most of us lived for summer vacation and thoroughly dreaded the first day of school, wondering WHY we had to learn about such boring and irrelevant things as history, foreign countries, math, or any of the other sciences.  Fortunately, our parents knew why it was necessary, and as we grew up, most of us eventually came to understand the value of our education as well.  Many of us with a scientific aptitude and/or a natural curiosity about how things work pursued a degree in one of the sciences or engineering, which is now referred to as STEM Education. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and anyone earning undergraduate or graduate degree in any of the STEM fields has traditionally been highly respected.

Unfortunately, the value of STEM education in American public schools has been on the decline. Supposedly educated people are increasingly denying  independent scientific evidence and research, opting instead to believe fictional tales woven by charlatans with no scientific background or education, but who admittedly talk a good game and spew fear mongering. Many American public school systems have recently been forced to dilute their Biology curricula by requiring teachers to include “Intelligent Design,” which is nothing more than rebadged Creationism, as an equally, if not more so, viable alternative to the scientifically proven Evolutionary process.

America’s recent political/economic environment has also had a devastating effect on STEM education within America. In March/April, 2013, severe budget cuts were announced as part of the mandated sequestration due to Congress’ inability to agree on a Federal Budget. Unfortunately, NASA’s outreach programs and educational funding took a substantial hit, affecting the ability of many scientists and engineers to continue their existing research and development programs.

The sad part is that a large segment of the American population – including several members of my own family – have applauded each and every NASA funding cut, even going so far as to say that past reductions have not gone far enough, and that NASA should be completely disbanded. They seem to think that NASA’s programs are wasteful and unnecessary – that they contribute NOTHING beneficial or useful to the average person, and are nothing more than a financial drain on the American taxpayer.

What these people fail to realize is that many of today’s technologies are deeply rooted in past and current NASA programs, having been developed by doctors, engineers, and scientists working either directly for NASA or for companies under contract to NASA, all of whom are STEM graduates.

The bottom line is that without STEM-educated doctors, engineers, and scientists, the world in which we live would be a far different place… many of the simple things we all use on a daily basis would never have been created or discovered:

  • There would be no penicillin, nor any of its derivatives.
  • We would have no Post-It Notes.
  • We would not have Blu-Ray players, or cell-phones, or baby monitors.
  • That sun-block you use when you go to the beach? Nope  – it would not be around either.

The list of scientific, medical, and technological discoveries and inventions – each of which most Americans takes for granted – goes on and on.

Within my writings, I intend to explore the technologies and inventions found in our everyday lives that would not have been possible without STEM educated individuals and/or NASA. At times I will provide my own personal commentary on the state of today’s STEM Education crisis, as well as other topics that may pique my interest. My intent is to raise awareness about the necessity of STEM educated Americans as we move into the 21st century.