How 'cool' would it be if more kids were psyched about STEM?

Part of the difficulty of getting kids into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is the common misconception that it's reserved for geeks or only the "smartest "kids in class. What if we could replace those images with real, relatable people, who kids have access to from an early age?

Mayim Bialik
Denise Herrick Borchert
Mayim Bialik

While most people know me as an actress on "The Big Bang Theory," I also have a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. I am a science geek and I embrace it! In high school and college, I spent hours upon hours with my graphing calculator in order to gain a deeper understanding of abstract concepts in science and mathematics. Today, many kids spend hours upon hours with their cell phones and tablets, which honestly worries me.

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In my role as brand ambassador for Texas Instruments, I have traveled to classrooms around the country encouraging students to pursue studies and future careers in the exciting and fulfilling STEM space. From a young age, students need access to mentors in STEM fields and they need to know the important statistics about STEM.

  • According to the U.S. bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in STEM occupations is projected to grow nearly twice as fast as the average for all occupations over the next four years.
  • A 2012 report from President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology found that about 1 million more STEM professionals will be needed in the next decade. Yet less than 40 percent of students entering college intend to major in these fields.

Encouraging the pursuit of careers in STEM will provide promising job opportunities now and in the future. And the world would be a better place if there were more motivated and excited scientists, mathematicians and engineers. After all, who is going to design the next wave of smartphones and tablets? Who is going to discover the cure for cancer?

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I grew up only mildly interested in science. I never thought I would actually pursue an advanced degree in science, since it didn't come easily to me. I was fortunate enough to have a young female tutor on the set of "Blossom" who gave me the confidence to realize that a career in science was a noble pursuit, within reach.

Although I returned to acting after my second son was born, a STEM education never leaves you, no matter if you stay at home with your kids, act on a television show, or pursue a different kind of career. A strong STEM education is important not only because the fastest growing jobs require a math and science background, but more importantly, the training puts students on a path to solid employment and job security.

In addition, being a scientist or an engineer means that you have a broad and exciting lens from which to view the world. It's what I value most about my training; I see the world in ways I never thought possible as a scientist.

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I know that STEM motivation often comes from outside the confines of school walls. Students need to see how STEM relates to things they are interested in, and students who have even a mild interest in science or math can get involved with our new contest, "Express Your Selfie" (www.tiselfie.com), and even win a video-conference call in class with me this fall.

Exploring math and science through a selfie has the potential to ignite our children's imaginations and inspire them to embrace their inner geek. Who knows, one day they may even get a Ph.D. in neuroscience!

Mayim Bialik is a three-time Emmy nominated actress for her work on "The Big Bang Theory." She also holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA, is the author of 2 books, writes regularly for Kveller.com and has been Texas Instruments' brand ambassador for STEM education for the last 3 years. Follow her on Twitter @missmayim.