Name:Sammer A. Manan Jr.
DEFINATION OF STEM EDUCATION
On its surface, “STEM” is the acronym of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
However, when you pull that first layer away, you reveal the most elaborate puzzle in the education
world. Most educators know what STEM stands for, but how many really know what it means?
A common definition is
STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are
coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise
enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new
economy. (Tsupros, 2009)
This definition raises many issues, though. My high school Advanced Placement composition teacher
would be appalled by defining a term by using the same term in the definition! How do you define
competing? Technology? Global enterprise? This definition is so vague that it leaves much up for
When STEM was first introduced as “the next big thing,” the thoughts behind it basically centered
around two issues. First, there was (and still is) a growing concern that the United States was not
preparing a sufficient number of students, teachers, and practitioners in the STEM fields. Second, our
industries need more workers in these fields due to an aging workforce and an increasingly innovative
world market. STEM is constantly divided into these two categories: STEM education and STEM
workforce, and rarely are the two discussed in conjunction.
As educators, we seem to consider STEM singularly from an educational perspective in which
success in science and mathematics is increasingly important and technology and engineering are
“integrated” when appropriate. When you start to divide STEM by subject (the silo approach), it gets
even murkier. Can science and mathematics alone be STEM? Does using an electronic whiteboard
during a lesson make it a STEM lesson? When my kindergarteners are playing with building blocks, is
that a STEM center? If you ask 10 different science, mathematics, technology, and engineering
teachers to define STEM, each will give you a very different and unique answer.
Inside education circles concerned with STEM, the silo approach creates a very incoherent
conversation, yet one with growing urgency. A colleague of mine stated STEM was really trying to fill
the jobs of the future. I would agree with that statement if it was made five years ago; today, though, I
argue the future is already here, and we are unprepared. Educationally, we imagine STEM instruction
as creating the next innovators, the superstars. We look for highly proficient students and try to
increase their interest in these fields so that we develop the innovators of the future. Our goal is to get
them through high school prepared for rigorous college coursework so they can become the leaders
of tomorrow’s industry. Educationally we see STEM as a very specialized, high-tech field we are
grooming our students to join. Industry, on the other hand, has a very unique view.
STEM from the workforce perspective is significantly different and more about grooming workers with
21st-century skills who are ready to jump right in. When teachers think about technology, we envision
computers, touchscreens, and digital data-collection tools. This view differs from how technology was
considered when STEM was first being discussed. Technology in industry is about thinking outside
the box and using materials to solve problems. I was once told that scissors were a form of
technology, and for industrial purposes, they really are. They were created to solve a problem: how to
cut something more precisely. Problem-solving and developing quick and cost-effective solutions on
the go are what industry is seeking in the next-generation workforce.
Biochemistry, engineering, computer programming, and emerging technologies are just a small sliver
of what the STEM workforce needs. These positions require the most skills, and we need to continue
developing students for these specialized fields, but we cannot forget the larger segment of industry
that relies on STEM. Construction, transportation, and even the hospitality industry rely on a STEM-
developed workforce. Whether it’s understanding how an engine works, or plotting trucking routes,
the advanced level of technical knowledge and problem-solving capability needed for these positions
have become obstacles that did not exist 10 years ago. This explains why industries view career and
technical education as a key piece of STEM education. Students must be prepared for any path they
choose in life, whether it is directly into a STEM career or studying a specialized STEM field in
I would amend Lander’s definition slightly: “Everybody who thinks they know what it means, knows
what it means within their field, and everybody else is defining it to fit their own needs.” I think it is
truly impossible to define STEM because it means so much for so many different groups of people.
Whether it is researchers, science and mathematics teachers, the aerospace industry, or the
construction industry, they all have one thing in common: It is about moving forward, solving
problems, learning, and pushing innovation to the next level.
IMPORTANCE OF STEM EDUCATION
o Over one!fifth!of!all!students!fail!to!graduate!with!their!class.
• The!“Educate to!Innovate”!campaign!focuses!on!improving!the!participation!and!performance!of!
• STEM%is%a%focus of%AT&T%Aspire,%a%$350%million
As part of his “Educate to Innovate” campaign, in September 2010 President Obama launched Change
the Equation, an effort to dramatically improve STEM education at all grade levels; inspire student
appreciation and excitement for STEM, especially among women and underrepresented minorities; and
achieve a sustained, national commitment to improving STEM education.
And Obama’s commitment to STEM education has not wavered. During his 2011 State of the Union
address, Obama said he wanted to train 100,000 science and math teachers over the next decade. This
year, the prez set the goal of graduating more students with STEM degrees – specifically, one million
more in the next 10 years.
So it should come as no surprise that STEM careers are among the nation’s fastest-growing fields.
According to a new report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, employment in the STEM fields
is expected to increase by 10 percent between 2008 and 2018, and, in some subspecialties, that growth
is projected to be up to 30 percent.
If you’re looking for job security, good pay, and work you can really sink your teeth into, STEM careers
are the way to go. And there are quite a few schools out there that are leading the way in making STEM
education accessible to everyone. (Check out these cutting-edge STEM programs at community
For students who can’t make it to the Boston, MA, campus, Wheelock College offers an online master of
science in education that focuses on STEM content for elementary teachers. The 30-credit program (of
which 21 credits are STEM-oriented) advances math and science knowledge and breaks it down in
pedagogical terms for teachers in those subject areas. Through this innovative program, Wheelock is
underscoring the importance of instilling foundational STEM knowledge and skills in the early grades in
order to foster long-term interest and higher-level study in STEM disciplines.
The University of Cincinnati (UC) is another school that emphasizes high-quality, accessible STEM
education. Through its online master of education in curriculum and instruction science, technology,
engineering, and math program, UC equips educators with the tools to integrate STEM concepts into all
subject areas and improve the quality of K-12 education overall. The rigorous, comprehensive, 45-credit
program (of which 21 credits are STEM-focused) prepares teachers with real-world, hands-on experience
they can apply in their classrooms right away.
Though STEM fields have traditionally been male-dominated, female enrollment in STEM majors is on the
rise. This fall, 11,388 women – or one in three female students – enrolled in STEM majors at the
University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and University of Northern Iowa. That’s a 13 percent increase
from three years ago. According to university officials, outreach efforts directed to girls well before high
school is credited for the boost in STEM interest.
When President Obama hosted more than 100 student science fair winners from around the country at
the White House in February, he was sending a very clear communiqué to the nation: STEM education is
ORGANIZATION OF STEM EDUCATION
Center for the Advancement of STEM Education (CASE) –http://www.caseforlearning.com
CASE provides instruction on 21st-century learning tools and strategies for teachers and scientists and
engineers so that the two can work collaboratively within school systems located in proximity to
Department of Defense labs.
Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) –http://www.k12science.org
CIESE collaborates with K-12 and university educators, researchers, policymakers and educational
organizations to develop curriculum materials, conduct professional development programs, and research
new methodologies to strengthen STEM education.
Center for STEM Education – http://www.stem.neu.edu
Operated at Northeastern University, the Center for STEM Education seeks to impact STEM teaching and
learning at all levels, both locally and nationally.
CompTIA – http://www.comptia.org
The Computing Technology Industry Association provides educational assessments and certifications in
information technology fields.
Challenger Center – http://www.challenger.org
Commemorating the crew of the Challenger Space Shuttle, the Challenger Center’s mission is to create a
scientifically literate population that can thrive in a world increasingly driven by information and
First Robotics – http://www.usfirst.org
An organization founded by inventor and entrepreneur, Dean Kaman, sponsors competitions for students
in which they design and construct robots.
High Tech High – http://www.hightechhigh.org
A public charter school in California launched by a coalition of San Diego business leaders and
educators. It has evolved into an integrated network of schools spanning grades K-12, housing a
comprehensive teacher certification program and a new, innovative Graduate School of Education.
HHMI Science Education Alliance – http://www.hhmi.org/grants/sea
A division of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Science Education Alliance creates the opportunity
to bring leading scientists and educators together to develop, implement, and/or disseminate vetted and
novel methods, technologies, and practices that can broaden scientific understanding and participation.
Health Occupations Student Organization (HOSA) – http://www.hosa.org
HOSA is a national career technical student organization endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education
with a goal of providing students in health science programs with leadership development, motivation,
Journal of STEM Education – http://ojs.jstem.org
This publication promotes high-quality undergraduate education in science, mathematics, engineering,
and technology through peer reviewed articles.
National Science Digital Library – http://www.nsdl.org
This website is a collection is comprised of web portals, web sites, and individual digital resources
identified by National Science Digital Library staff as appropriate for inclusion in the Library.
National Science Education Leadership Association – http://www.nsela.org
An organization dedicated to developing science education leadership for K - 16 school systems. NSELA
members have a strong interest in advances in a broad array of topics including student learning, safety,
curriculum, technology, professional development, assessment, inquiry, and science education reform.
National Science Foundation (NSF) – http://www.nsfresources.org
This site contains an initial sampling of resources and findings from NSF-funded projects related to STEM
Ohio STEM Learning Network – http://www.osln.org
The Ohio STEM Learning Network is an initiative that connects and unites the STEM education assets in
the state and provides a forum to share the work.
PBS STEM Education Resource Center – http://www.pbs.org/teachers/stem
Operated by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), this database contains nearly 4,000 science,
technology, engineering and math resources for teachers in grades pre-K through 12.
Project Lead the Way – http://www.pltw.org
Project Lead the Way provides an engaging, hands-on K-12 curriculum in many STEM education fields,
such as engineering and biotechnology.
School of One – http://www.schoolofone.org
School of One was created to generate bold, effective and transformative changes in the classroom to
better meet the individual needs of today's students.
REFERENCEOF STEM EDUCATION
In recent decades, research on the process of learning, and particularly on the process of
learning science, has blossomed. We can use the results of this research to improve both the
quality and the quantity of learning that occurs in our classrooms, producing better-educated
geoscientists and citizens. See the references below for specific recommendations.
On Geoscience Education
AGU, 1995 , Scrutiny of Undergraduate Geoscience Education: Is the Viability of the Geosciences
This is the report of the AGU Chapman Conference on "Scrutiny of Undergraduate Geoscience
Education" which yielded a series of observations and recommendations to help improve the
education of the geological professionals and the general public.
Barstow and Geary, (more info) Revolution in Earth and Space Science Education
The National Science Foundation funded a National Conference on the Revolution in Earth and
Space Science Education to explore the nature and scope of this revolution, and to develop an
action plan for long-term change in Earth and space science education throughout the nation.
Ireton, Manduca and Mogk, 1997 , Shaping the Future of Undergraduate Earth Science Education:
Innovation and Change Using an Earth System Approach
This report,from a workshop convened by the American Geophysical Union, puts forward a
coherent educational plan for undergraduate Earth and space science education.
USRA: Design Guide for Undergraduate Earth System Science Education (more info)
A resource for faculty from multiple disciplines who wish to develop Earth system science courses
or programs: this website includes an extensive collection of exemplary Earth System Science
modules, sections on the scientific framework for Earth System Science and on data, tools, and
models, and much more.
On the Cognate Sciences and Math
NRC, 2005 , America's Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science
This report addresses both the current state and future potential of laboratory experiences in US at
the high school curriculum. It provides clear design principles for the development of laboratory
NRC, 2003 , BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists
This new volume provides a blueprint for bringing undergraduate biology education up to the speed
of today s research fast track. It includes recommendations for teaching the next generation of life
NSF, 1996 , Shaping the Future: New Expectations for Undergraduate Education in Science,
Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (NSF 96-139)
This report provides guidelines for more effective use of the investments made by individuals,
organizations, and agencies seeking to improve undergraduate education in science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
NSTA Teacher Resources: National Science Education Standards
This PDF document from the National Science Teachers Association outlines NSTA's resources for
educators at several levels who want to implement the National Science Education Standards in
their classes. This is the 2003 version of standards.
Seymour and Hewitt, 1997 , Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave the Sciences
This books examines the reasons why undergraduate students switch from science, mathematics,
and engineering majors to nonscience majors.
Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics (SPIN-UP): Full Report PDF
Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics at Two-Year Colleges (SPIN-
UP/TYC (more info) ) (1.88 Mb)
Tobias, 1992 , Revitalizing Undergraduate Science: Why Some Things Work and Most Don't
Every wave of mathematics and science education reform obliterates the one before and leaves
little lasting change in its wake. Sheila Tobias' research suggests that the emphasis on curriculum
and pedagogy and the seeking after some "magic bullet" are doomed to fail; that innovators,
working alone without adequate "buy-in" from their colleagues do not improve the quality of
instruction overall; and that funders misconstrue the true nature of the problem and of the solution.
Tomorrow's Professor #222: The Urgency of Reinventing Undergraduate Education at Research
This is an excerpt from a speech given by Nancy Cantor at the dedication of The Reinvention
Center at SUNY - Stony Brook.
US Dept of Ed, 2000 , Before It's Too Late, A Report to the Nation from the National Commission
on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century
The primary message of this report holds that America's students must improve their performance
in mathematics and science if they are to succeed in today's world and if the United States is to stay
competitive in an integrated global economy.