Fads come and go in education, but STEM looks to have some real staying power. We’ve answered all your common questions here, while also providing some real-life case studies to get you inspired.
What does STEM stand for?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, but there’s more to it than that.
In an education context, STEM doesn’t just mean the grouping of four academic disciplines, it refers to a cross-disciplinary approach to teaching in which aspects of all four disciplines are brought together in one project or subject.
STEM lessons are often a great place to use Inquiry or Project-Based Learning. Students can try and work out solutions to real-world problems by applying their knowledge from the four STEM disciplines.
Notably, the social sciences are typically ommitted from STEM and grouped with the humanities and arts instead, forming the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) grouping.
How do you implement STEM in the classroom?
Teachers can implement STEM in countless ways. Classic lesson plans range from designing and programming robots to building tin foil boats.
Crystal Brook Primary School’s ice cream project is a brilliant real-world example. Students were tasked with concocting a new ice cream product – some set about designing original flavours, others tried their hand at inventing unmeltable ice cream.
The Delorean Project at Glasshouse Christian College is another fantastic case study. Every Wednesday, 90 students and six teachers spent the entire day harnessing STEM skills to work on innovative, world-first start-up projects.
What does STEAM mean?
STEAM is a variation of STEM, where the ‘A’ stands for ‘art’. To some, the arts are a natural inclusion in STEM lessons, while others argue that art fits more naturally with the humanities. Wherever you stand on the debate, STEAM doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon.
Crystle Challinger’s great work using augmented and virtual reality programs to recreate circus industry environments for her students is a fantastic, recent example of STEAM at work in the classroom.