The workings of STEM education have been in the making since the 1990s and in essence is the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics within the classroom. It encourages students and teachers to embrace and really know what science, technology, engineering and mathematics really are and allow students to discover beyond the traditional subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic. Through projects, students in STEM education programs practice what they are taught and learn to think outside the box.
Before discovering how these entities work as a unit, let us first decipher the meaning of each one as it stands “alone.”
On average when most people think of science, we think about chemistry, biology, physics, and the earth sciences, all of which have provided us with an introduction of what science entails in its most basic forms. Another thing that comes to mind is the one and only scientific method. This method is taught in order to help find answers to the unknown yet this only goes so far, as one answer may lead to several more questions. It is constantly growing and may never have a set of rules that will apply for all eternity. Science is all around us whether or not it is obvious. We see it in text books, through specific observations, experiments, investigations, discoveries, and so on. Science is in one way or another related to everything we do, see, or touch.
Much like science, technology is everywhere. Technology has been around for millenniums from the invention of the wheel to the latest version of the iPad. The development of technology was to serve a purpose, and that purpose is to help work smarter not harder. Inventions are constantly being invented and reinvented making their way into our daily lives. It is here for the advancement of society, helping bring new light in all fields of life.
Is the silent partner in the development of inventions. Usually we are taught to look at what is in front of us to find an answer – one that it is right under our noses so to speak. Many times engineering is ignored and under-appreciated mostly because many do not like to take the time to think through problems and find solutions. In this field one is expected to be able to think outside the box in order to help bring to life what was once just an idea scribbled on a sheet on paper.
Understanding what math is, is much more than knowing how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. The evolution of math has come a long way, going from needing it to distinguish the difference between one rock or two, to helping put man on the moon and contributing to the creation of life-saving medicines. In math there is structure, symmetry, transformations, patterns, order, so on and so forth all seeming difficult at times, but math is a language that we are born to know. If individuals would take more time to look past the symbols and the seemingly complex equations, they would find that what they are looking for.
Science, technology, engineering, and math all go hand in hand. These areas cannot be thought of as standalone subjects because they all, in one way or another, depend on each other for achieving the creation of the next best thing known to man. It is not always apparent, but they all intertwine. Science is an undefined subject that is constantly evolving into something bigger and better. It is a combination of bringing together what was once touched upon with theories or ideas and shedding a new light or perspective (engineering) on them to help them become new technologies. Even though scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians all focus on different areas and view things differently, it is precisely that that helps put their work together and develop a whole new product or idea.
So what does all this have to do with education? Since its origins in the 1990s, STEM education has come a long way, and continues to evolve. Much like the inner workings of each entity, we are seeing that same integration in our education system as our classrooms are beginning to provide more and more students the opportunity to discover and a chance to think outside the box. This in turn helps prepare them for future endeavors, all of which continue to add to the development of STEM in society.