Sesame Street’s focus on STEM elements admirable

The perennial children’s educational TV show Sesame Street has a special place in the hearts of many Americans. The show and its worldwide counterparts have taught children the fundamentals of learning and life lessons since 1969.

Recently, the program that is home to Big Bird, Elmo, and Cookie Monster expanded its curriculum to develop a stronger focus on the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

According to The New York Times, the program is putting more of an emphasis “on urging children to investigate, as opposed to simply explore.” Teaching this kind of analytical thinking — even at a very early age — is crucial, and Sesame Street should be applauded for expanding the show’s content to include STEM topics.

According to Forbes magazine, the science and engineering workforce is responsible for over 50 percent of the nation’s sustained economic expansion; however, only 5 percent of the overall workforce is employed in these fields. This disparity between expansion and job demand occurs at a time when the educational leaders of the U.S. are decrying an innovation deficit.

Only 17 percent of high school seniors are both interested in pursuing higher education in STEM and qualified or skilled enough to do so, according to The Washington Post. Thus, it’s imperative that children not only receive a STEM education at an early age, but also develop a strong interest in science and analytical thinking.

The success of Carnegie Mellon and other STEM-focused institutions is dependent on a steady source of inquisitive and intelligent students and faculty. STEM is shaping so much of the job market that leaving it out of a child’s education would be equivalent to preparing them for a world very different from ours today.

Programs like Sesame Street deserve the recognition for being pioneers in developing such an accessible STEM curriculum for young children, and hopefully the country’s own public education system follows suit.