STEM is more than a clever acronym. It is a way of thinking and presenting lessons to students that are more engaging—and relevant—to their lives.
Whether you’re familiar with STEM concepts or it is new for you, there is a lot to benefit from adding STEM to your teaching tool kit. You can scroll down for the top three benefits of STEM if you’re already familiar with the concepts.
What is STEM?
STEM is a set of curricula that prioritizes lessons around Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The acronym is STEM.
STEM is backed by research that studies how students learn best. Essentially, students may grasp the material better when the lessons are integrated and inquiry-based.
Historically, STEM was designed under the Obama Administration to inspire the current and next generation of innovators. Careers rooted in STEM-based education include computing, traditional engineering, physical sciences, life sciences, and mathematics.
STEM vs. STEAM
STEAM is the same STEM curricula with the addition of Art. Hence the acronym STEAM.
The addition of the arts to STEM curriculum is growing. A lot of STEM lessons already incorporate art—the leap from STEM to STEAM is not unrealistic. Art can fortify the same concepts that are integral to STEM.
You can read more about the “STEM vs. STEAM” dialogue here.
Top 3 Benefits of STEM
There are a lot of ways that STEM-based learning can enhance learning experiences. Here are the top three, according to recent studies.
1. Blending Subjects is More Interesting for Students
Not every student loves math the way they love science. And not every student loves science the way they love art. With STEM and STEAM curriculum, there is more likely to be something for everyone.
Conversations from this curriculum focus on the need for combining fields and subjects—as well as hearing the voices of more students in the classroom.
STEM-learning also encourages collaboration. Class subjects are not presented as independent and isolated boxes; instead, educators present the interrelatedness of these subjects.
This kind of learning encourages all types of learners to participate.
2. STEM Education is Solution-Focused
Many students are overwhelmed. In the news and in school, there is no lack of social and environmental issues—students are aware of “big issues” of our time.
Luckily, solution-driven thinking is a core part of STEM. Educators get to offer lessons where students can discuss and investigate real issues, rather than feel powerless.
Here’s a link to STEM projects for students that uses solution-focused learning.
3. STEM Promotes Curiosity and Inquiry
In a world with distraction, nature-deficit disorder, and abundant screen time, STEM encourages curiosity. With the inquiry-based approach in STEM, students are not fed answers—they are fed questions.
Questions beget questions. Questions foster curiosity and student-led inquiry.
This type of learning also means that students are communicating their ideas with each other, as well as with the primary educator.
Here are some of our top-selling STEM kits, with activities for all ages.
Wrap-Up: To STEM or Not to STEM?
Imagine if every student received an education that encouraged critical thinking, collaboration, and innovation. It would be incredible.
There are also concerns with STEM. Not every student has equitable access to a STEM-based curriculum in their school. More so, a lot of schools do not have the infrastructure and support to incorporate STEM into their school.
These are valid critiques of STEM. Educators, policymakers, and researchers need to explore and address these concerns.
What is your relationship with STEM-based learning and concepts? Do you use it? What additional resources would be helpful for educators looking into STEM?
Feel free to leave us a comment below. We would love to hear from you.