Not STEM doesn’t equal not smart

Non-STEM classes allow senior to explore other interests

Senior+Kaulyn+Loe+practices++playing+the+piano.+Loe+has+been+able+to+take+more+music-related+electives+because+of+her+non-STEM+schedule.

Photo by Dimitrius James

Senior Kaulyn Loe practices playing the piano. Loe has been able to take more music-related electives because of her non-STEM schedule.

Story by Katherine Stoeckl, staff writer

To be in STEM, or not to be in STEM; that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler for class rank to burden oneself with a multitude of group projects, or to face the daunting task of being out of your comfort zone, middle schoolers must make the choice between the STEM academy and IDEAs.

Senior Kaulyn Loe is not in Ross Perot STEM Academy, but has grown to appreciate the opportunity to expand her friend group.

“Due to the fact that most of my friends are in STEM, I’ve had to make new friends, so I won’t be completely isolated in class,” Loe said. “However, being a non-STEM student has not had an impact on the quality of my high school education.”

High school students who are enrolled in STEM are required to take Engineering Design and Presentation. Loe, however, has been able to explore other interests.

“I have been able to take woodwind ensemble every year because I didn’t have to fill up a slot in my schedule with an engineering class,” Loe said. “So not being in STEM has really helped me grow as a musician.”

Loe is an avid musician who has been playing piano and clarinet for nearly 12 years. Balancing piano and marching competitions alongside All Region Band is hard enough. Maintaining high As is an even more incredible feat.

“I usually try to get all of my homework done before I practice,” Loe said. “Sometimes, I’ll multitask and study for a test or work a few math problems between reps.”

The STEM academy incorporates technology into class group work and out of class projects to increase student leadership and technological skills.

“Probably the best thing about non-STEM classes is the fact that they don’t require many projects,” Loe said. “I may have one or two major projects a semester, while it seems like my friends are constantly complaining about having to stay up late trying to finish two projects that are due on the same day.”

Loe was named a Commended Scholar in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program, along with Alanna Tran and Alex Heo.

“I am honored to be a Commended Scholar,” Loe said. “I’m really proud to be recognized with Alex and Alanna because we all worked hard and deserve it.”

One the most prevalent stereotypes among Texas High students is that non-STEM students are not as capable as students in STEM. Loe is proof that this idea is largely inaccurate.

“I get incredibly offended when STEM kids besmirch the non-STEM kids,” Loe said. “Just because I won’t walk across the stage with a special STEM collar at graduation doesn’t mean that I’m not intelligent. Just because STEM has its own hallway and different teachers doesn’t mean that non-STEM students and teachers are inherently inferior.”