• Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM)

    What is STEM Education

    Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is a relatively new mode of thinking about how best to educate high school students for the workforce and for post-secondary education.

    STEM education is not simply a new name for the traditional approach to teaching science and mathematics. Nor is it just the grafting of “technology” and “engineering” layers onto standard science and math curricula. Instead, STEM is an approach to teaching that is larger than its constituent parts; it is, as Janice Morrison of the Teaching Institute for Essential Science puts it, a “meta-discipline.” STEM education removes the traditional barriers erected between the four disciplines, by integrating the four subjects into one cohesive means of teaching and learning. The engineering component puts emphasis on the process and design of solutions instead of the solutions themselves. This approach allows students to explore math and science in a more personalized context, while helping them to develop the critical thinking skills that can be applied to all facets of their work and academic lives. Engineering is the method that students utilize for discovery, exploration, and problem solving.

    The technology component allows for a deeper understanding of the three other parts of STEM education. It allows students to apply what they have learned, utilizing computers with specialized and professional applications like CAD and computer animation. These and other applications of technology allow students to explore STEM subjects in greater detail and in a practical manner.

    Why is STEM Education Important?
    High school education must adapt to the changing needs of America’s economy. All sectors of the workforce – from entry-level jobs to more advanced positions – are requiring workers to have a greater capacity to think critically, work independently, and apply an ever widening set of sophisticated skills. Even entry-level jobs require these sophisticated skills from their “unskilled” workers.

    Increasingly more college graduates are opting out of technical fields like engineering and the hard sciences, reducing the supply of potential workers for America’s emerging needs within these fields. As current workers in the engineering and hard science fields reach retirement age, the United States will not be able to fill these positions to keep itself competitive in the international labor market.

    STEM education provides an early groundwork for fostering students’ interest in these kinds of careers and provides the entry-level skills for the workforce and for post-secondary education. From National High School Alliance

    As stated by President Obama in launching his Educate to Innovate campaign, A growing number of jobs require STEM skills, and America needs a world-class STEM workforce to address the “grand challenges” of the 21st century, such as developing clean sources of energy that reduce our dependence on foreign oil and discovering cures for diseases. The goal is to apply new and creative methods of generating and maintaining student interest and enthusiasm in science and math, reinvigorating the pipeline of ingenuity and innovation essential to America’s success that has long been at the core of American economic leadership.

    At State College we use the acronym STEAM to identify our initiative. Why the A in STEAM?

    The STEM fields are considered collectively as core underpinnings of an advanced society. Proficiency in these areas is essential for individuals to flourish in the age of abundance, automation, digitization, outsourcing, and off shoring. To prepare our students to be meaningful contributors in the 21st century, STEM has become one of the five pathways of SCASD’s vision for 21st century education.

    In the age of abundance, where people have myriad choices in every price range when choosing products and services, the element of design is often the distinguishing factor for consumers. Understanding how the creative elements of design contribute to innovation is an essential component of creating solutions for an advanced society.

    We recognize the creative and design aspects of the arts as essential components of STEM, and their importance of their place in the technological underpinnings of solutions providing for an advanced society.

    Thus the “A” in STEAM.

Last Modified on March 8, 2011