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What is STEM Education?

Date: 2018-08-28
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What would make you most interested in becoming a National Park ranger? Reading about forests, attending a lecture on what a park ranger does, watching a video called 'A Day in the Life of a Park Ranger' or frequently hiking through national forests? The experience of actually hiking and the pleasant memories associated with the experience, more than any of the other choices listed, would probably spark your interest in that career path. This is the theory behind STEM education. By exposing students to STEM and giving them opportunities to explore STEM-related concepts, they will develop a passion for it and, hopefully, pursue a job in a STEM field.

 

So what is STEM? STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These four symbols represent the different areas of STEM education.

STEM education integrates concepts that are usually taught as separate subjects in different classes and emphasizes the application of knowledge to real-life situations. A lesson or unit in a STEM class is typically based around finding a solution to a real-world problem and tends to emphasize project-based learning. A good STEM lesson ensures that students understand the connection to the real world.

 

A sample STEM lesson would start with showing pictures of large barges carrying crates. Then students would experiment with different materials and computer-aided designs in an attempt to build a model boat capable of holding large amounts of pennies. Math would be incorporated by demanding specific measurements for the design and requiring the students to keep within a certain budget for their materials. This experiment models how real-world engineers and scientists try to improve the efficiency of the current shipping designs.

 

STEM education could take place in a separate STEM class or be incorporated into practically any subject and grade level. Of course science and math classes would be able to directly implement STEM-related lessons. In a social studies class learning about the industrial revolution, however, students may design their own assembly line. Or, in an English class, students may be keeping a journal about their thinking and research processes while designing a realistic bridge from a fictional novel.

 

Careers in STEM-related fields are vast and diverse. They obviously include careers in the pharmacy, energy, programming, and engineering fields. However, STEM careers may also take the form of a physician's assistant, network communications expert, or agricultural professional. Finance, risk analysis, and even athletic training have elements of STEM in them. And, of course, teaching is an essential career that stimulates the STEM fields

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