What is STEM?

The Concept Behind STEM

For years, the education system kept some of its most necessary academic subjects separate but equal, teaching math, science, technology, and engineering independently. While this strategy might work in the sense that it allows the students to focus exclusively on one discipline, it denies the natural overlays that exist between these subjects and actually diminishes the impact these related fields have on one another. Taking that even further, it creates learning barriers for students who could more easily grasp the concepts if they were taught in combination. To correct this, teachers have begun integrating these subjects to meet the demands of STEM initiatives sweeping schools across the country. The collective hopes of both the government and schools is that improved STEM education will foster a love for these disciplines that lead more students to pursue careers in these fields and support the critical advancement of society.

STEM is an acronym for the disciplines it supports: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, but it refers to so much more than just the subjects themselves. STEM education refers to a renewed approach that works by exciting learners in these subjects that are so vital to the success of our society. Through project-based learning that encourages discovery, exploratory learning and problem solving, students begin to understand how these subjects support a real-world understanding of their environments and the opportunities they might be presented with in their future careers. This helps the United States to remain competitive with other countries and cultivates an innovative spirit in its citizens to constantly look for ways to creatively benefit communities and solve some of its most pressing problems simultaneously.

Instead of asking students to memorize scientific processes or equations, educators put those same disciplines to work in real-world scenarios that students likely have already encountered. For example, it’s more likely that a young learner will have a greater interest in understanding the applications of science and mathematics to examine what causes a tornado than simply wrapping their brains around the terms involved without a concrete example. Another example could be demonstrating how science or math applies to a popular sport, like how the trajectory of a pitch impacts the batter’s hitting strategy. By pointing out the everyday usefulness of the knowledge presented, not only will students be more motivated to retain the information, but it also creates a more dynamic instruction style that takes the lesson off the page and puts it in a setting that more directly affects the learner. Simply changing the way you teach these disciplines can improve student learning in many cases.

In many cases, teachers in middle schools and secondary schools are also seeing success in implementing courses devoted to subjects that ordinarily are reserved for higher education, such as computer animation or design, to stimulate and motivate interest in STEM education in younger learners. Other strategies revolve around the use of advanced technologies, incorporating computers and even cell phones into the curriculum to give students the opportunities to work with tools they are already enthusiastic about using. But the initiative doesn’t just concern itself with the curriculum and learning tools, schools are also actively looking to improve STEM teaching strategies by promoting a higher quality of educator for these disciplines. The concept behind STEM education relies on teachers who are more committed to advancing their own understanding of these subjects alongside their students.

By becoming a STEM teacher or improving upon your skills in teaching STEM disciplines, educators can become integral components of furthering this initiative in their own schools. Through an online STEM degree, teachers become more capable instructors in subjects such as chemistry, physics, earth science, life sciences, and math. A master’s degree with a concentration in STEM education broadens the depth of understanding teachers have in these subjects, better preparing them to invigorate the curriculum and imaginatively expand the learning opportunities students have. This can dramatically increase student interest in STEM disciplines, resulting in a higher likelihood they will choose to pursue these subjects in higher learning facilities. More than that, it better prepares them to be competitive in a workforce that increasingly depends on science, technology, engineering, and mathematical competencies.

STEM educators work to propel students toward careers in STEM disciplines, but they don’t necessarily exclusively teach STEM subjects. As schools look toward a more integrated curriculum overall, you can find STEM influences in many unexpected places, like music or art classes, or even a literature class. When the opportunity presents itself to share subject matter, teachers who are adept in recognizing overlapping lessons can benefit students with a truly enriching classroom experience. This offers students a comprehensive approach to education that promotes STEM initiatives and benefits both the learners and educators.

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