“The Basics” of STEM Education

“The Basics” of STEM Education

Over the  years, STEM has become very popular.  Phrases like “STEM education” and “STEM attributes” have become very common and

even Fortune 500 companies are taking note as they race to prove that they are on the cutting edge of this “new” concept.

What many of them don’t understand is that STEM is not new.  It’s just a different way of of looking at things.  When introduced by the National Science Foundation in the 1950’s (yes, you read that right), it was just a basic idea- that science and math are important.  In the 1980’s, this concept grew earned a pithy acronym- SMET (and in some areas METS).

STEM education is a teaching philosophy that not only changes classroom dynamics by making it more student-centered, but is rooted in the concepts that students need to be exposed to real life scenarios while teaching them transferable skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and inquiry.

Classrooms engaged in STEM understand that the acronym’s core subjects- science, technology, engineering, and math, are tightly interwoven, as they are in real life.  While engaged in these real world projects, students are focusing on the higher level thinking skills that help to make them more critical thinkers…and hopefully interesting them in pursuing a STEM-related career.


In addition to meeting curriculum requirements, STEM helps students to grow in areas that aren’t necessarily measured by the state curriculum or even classroom assessments, but that are necessary skills that contribute to a student’s self-worth and confidence.

Some of those interpersonal skills are communication, critical thinking skills collaboration, project management, decision making, problem solving, etc.  STEM naturally builds these skills by placing students in real-life project situations that not only require their understanding, but also their application.  As a result, it makes STEM education a powerful tool for students and teachers.