STEM studies are here to stay. Who knew that STEM, a curriculum based on four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — began long ago with the launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik? After that event, Americans were challenged to step up and become leaders in science, technology, engineering and math.

According to Edweek.com, the STEM acronym is attributed to Judith A. Ramaley, who was the assistant director for education and human resources at the National Science Foundation from 2001-04. Ramaley served as president of Winona State University, and the local paper there quoted her as saying that when her team was first creating curricula for those disciplines, the acronym they came up with was “SMET,” but she “didn’t like the sound of that word.” So she changed it.

“STEM” does sound much better than “SMET”!

As of 2020, 10.2 million people work in STEM fields across the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is why Lufkin ISD starts out STEM with a bang in the fourth grade with a full day of STEM activities.

The fourth-grade “STEMfest: a Festival of Intrigue and Inquiry” is designed to pique the interest of young mathematicians, engineers and scientists so they will see that STEM is fun, creative and challenging. The event is Jan. 28 at the Pitser Garrison Convention Center. All fourth-graders across the district will attend.

The students will experience a Maker Faire with all kinds of activities and sessions ranging from augmented reality to circuits to rockets. There also will be a STEM Imagination Rotation that includes:

■ Lufkin High School Audio/Visual Department: “Green Screen”

■ Houston Museum of Natural Science: “Discovery Dome”

■ Ellen Trout Zoo: “STEM at the Zoo”

■ Texas Forestry Museum: “Energy Starburst”

■ Lufkin High School “Pantherbots” Robotics

■ Lufkin High School STEM Academy: “The Magical Mystery Tour” (Escape Room) — funded by a Lufkin Education Foundation Grant

The Lufkin ISD STEM program continues into middle school and culminates with the STEM Academy that is partnered with Stephen F. Austin State University. Lufkin High School students travel to SFASU every three weeks during the spring semester to perform experiments and enjoy lessons from SFASU professors in all areas of STEM research from medical to computer science.

Lufkin ISD has an impressive STEM focus to prepare students for future jobs that haven’t even been created yet. We know that a good foundation in STEM studies will help create opportunities for our students because with the knowledge they apply in our community and beyond. Together We Rise!

Lynn Torres is the superintendent of Lufkin ISD. Her email address is ltorres@lufkinisd.org.