What is STEM?

A working definition for STEM in Education.

From STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), to STEAM (incorporating arts) STEAMD (plus design) to STEMM (adding medicine) to SMART (science, maths and related disciplines) to just ‘the Sciences’ (as described in the 2017 Australian Government report as science, including medical science, earth science and mathematical sciences, and related disciplines such as engineering, technology). What do they all mean? Is one better than the other? How do you teach it? Why is it important?

“STEM is the teaching of subjects within the STEM umbrella, the integrated teaching between those subjects, and the skills such as collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking and creativity that are taught through those subjects.”

The important things to consider are that:

  1. Students need a solid understanding of basic science and mathematics so participation and excellence in these core subjects should be promoted.
  2. Students need opportunities to be exposed to interdisciplinary approaches in their learning. Connections between subjects should be made and the transfer of knowledge and skills across disciplines encouraged.
  3. Students need opportunities to learn and practice skills of communication, collaboration, project based work and enterprise in order to be successful workers in the future. School needs to provide these experiences, and the STEM lens provides an authentic way to do so.

There is no one way to “do STEM”. Aim for authentic integration of subjects in projects or with driving questions that are relevant to your local context.

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