16 Winter / Hiver 2017 he STEM fields (encompassing natural sciences, mathematics and statistics; information and communication tech- nologies; and engineering, manufacturing and construction) are especially important for fostering innovation and economic growth. Almost all top ten best jobs of 2017, pub- lished by CareerCast.com, are STEM-related jobs. Four of the jobs are explicitly mathemat- ical, and seven involve mathematics and com- puting. On the other hand, results of the Edu- cation at a Glance 2017 study show that STEM is a less attractive field of study in which post-secondary students enrol, even though graduates from STEM disciplines are usually the most employable, and particularly so graduates in information and communication technologies (ICT). The field of ICT attracts less than 5% of new entrants, the smallest share to a field of study, yet yields the highest employment rate on average across OECD coun- tries, signalling a shortage of supply. 1 Workers who successfully combine mathematical and interpersonal skills in the knowledge-based economies of the future will be, and already are, highly prized. How can IEEE volunteers, including industry professionals and uni- versity educators, motivate the new generation to want and prepare for one of these great jobs? What skills should individuals be acquir- ing to ensure they have value in the modern workplace? To be suc- cessful in STEM education, one must be ready for challenging work, and develop the qualities of perseverance and focus. Preparing for careers in STEM must start early – teachers and parents should be a part of the process. Some may be surprised to learn that skills children develop in pre-school such as sharing and negotiating will be crucial and valued highly. “Along with those soft skills, mathematical ability will be enormously beneficial,” according to weforum.org. 2 The Teacher In-Service Program (TISP) connects IEEE volunteers with pre-university educators and students. TISP volunteers share their real- world experiences, and demonstrate engineering, science and mathemat- ics concepts. The Canadian Math Kangaroo Contest (CMKC) is a vol- unteer-run, not-for-profit organization, with similar goals – to spread the joy of mathematics, science and engineering and instil a passion for these subjects among youth in an inclusive atmosphere. Competing in math can start from grade 1 Participating in math contest-games can start in grade 1. Math and sci- ence competitions are often neglected in Canada as a motivating tool for awakening and developing the curiosity and interest of students. Some of these young children might become future inventors. No one expects that the participants in math competitions will all become mathematicians, just as not all children who take sports or music les- sons become athletes or musicians. Parents are seeking challenging math programs for their children in order to develop children’analytic- al and problem-solving skills. The impression exists that schools now- adays fail to sufficiently develop in children a love and appreciation of mathematics. Certainly, university educators are concerned about the fact that students arrive with certain attitudes toward mathematics, which is an obstacle in getting them excited about all other science and engineering areas. The STEM univer- sity teachers and students can help. The Great Canadian Math Debate The K-12 mathematics curricula in many provinces of Canada are sources of confusion for teachers, students, and university educators. Children in ele- mentary school are asked to discover and devise their own personal strat- egies prior to being taught standard arithmetic facts. As a result, many students do not understand and master mathematics; naturally, standard- ized math scores have been declining. Understanding and skills are essential for doing well in mathematics. Acquiring and retaining math skills requires memorization and practice, effective not only in math but in all natural sciences. How can one progress in engineering, medicine, modern technologies, if every generation has to “discover” every phe- nomenon already documented? There is hope for improvement after some changes in math curricula took place during the past years. A posi- tive action indeed but a lot more is needed for fixing the broken curricula. Canadian Math Kangaroo The purpose of the game contest is to stimulate and motivate the largest possible number of students (as a complement to other activities, com- petitions, Olympiads and rallies). Consequently, the overarching goal of the CMKC program is to inspire and support students in Canada to choose careers in math, science and technology-related fields, and to help them succeed in their studies. Indirectly, this is achieved by raising awareness and appreciation of math challenges among broader com- munities, as well as by supporting and educating teachers in providing challenging math opportunities in their classrooms. It is worth mentioning, as well, that there are unique benefits of Math Kangaroo for mathematically promising students of all ages. Such stu- dents are usually under-served in the public education system, which does not provide them with enough challenging and motivating tasks. The CMKC is part of a broader international project that, as of 2017, involves over six million students and hundreds of mathematicians from more than 65 countries. The contest is organized by the inter- national association “Kangourou Sans Frontières” as an annual game-contest, usually held in March. It consists of a multiple-choice game-test, that is open to all students in grades 1-12, and is an inclu- sive and broad participation contest-game. The best part of the competition are the problems – they are provocative, require a great deal of attention and creative thinking, and cover inter- Mathematics Outreach MotivatingStudentsto Prepare for STEMCareers for Rossitza S. Marinova, Ph.D., Professor, Concordia University of Edmonton, Volunteer for IEEE Canada’s Teacher In-Service Program (TISP) and Canadian Math Kangaroo Contest (CMKC) OECD (2017), Education at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2017-en 1 https://www.weforum.org/agenda/ 2016/09/jobs-of-future-and-skills-you-need/, World Economic Forum 2