Why STEM Day Shouldn’t be Celebrated

By Tasmyn Scarl Front

Today is National STEM day, which is a day set aside to inspire people, especially young people, to explore and engage in science, technology, engineering, art, and math activities. As I was figuring out how to “pooh-pooh” it (because, after all, shouldn’t we be working on how to inspire students to pursue STEM interests EVERY day?), I did come across an explanation as to how this particular day was chosen.

Inspired by the Project Mc² brand, created by MGA Entertainment, the STEAM – based franchise features “four super smart girls who are part of a super-secret spy organization called NOV8 (that’s “innovate”)”. Like Pi Day (3.14), this day at least has a clever reason as to why STEAM day is celebrated on November 8. As for other meaningful connections to other national days to recognize the other STEM fields, the results were lukewarm. National Engineer Day is celebrated on different dates in different countries, most usually connected to a famous engineer in that country. In the United States, it is celebrated during a week in February that encompasses George Washington’s birthday, February 22. And as far as I am able to tell, National Technology Day, which is celebrated on January 6, has no meaningful connection to that day, so perhaps our future generation of innovators can come up with a connection to that one. As for National Science Day, there actually is no particular day in the United States that is recognized for the accomplishments, discoveries, clever connections, or pioneers that have made significant contributions in science.

So, we have STEM day (or STEAM day as some people recognize the importance of including the arts), when perhaps some people might take a part of their day to engage in some type of STEM activity that they might not have pursued otherwise. If people are going to celebrate the importance of STEM and the critical need to engage more students in these fields, my hope is that they celebrate STEM day EVERY day. And we should acknowledge that while some national holidays are connected to important historical figure or event, many are really just a way sell greeting cards or a pathway down a digital rabbit hole.  Now, national doughnut day, that’s another story…