Skip to main content

Getting to the root of STEM

By Francis Eberle

Posted on 2011-01-11

NSTA Executive Director Francis Eberle

NSTA Executive Director Francis Eberle

For the last few years I have been conducting my own investigation into the increased interest and expansion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in rhetoric, legislation, institutional structures, programs, and materials.
What has intrigued me is the way STEM is used as an acronym for the separate subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), or as topics within each of the four subjects (such as biotechnology). Often the acronym is used to depict only one of the four subjects, two of more of the subjects, or some type of an integrated combination of two or more of these four subjects. (I am using the term subjects here to describe STEM, rather than calling them disciplines, because there are some who say that technology and engineering are not disciplines. More explanation is probably warranted for this statement, but I am not going to do this in this post.)
The more variation I found in how STEM was being used, the more curious I became about what this would look like in districts, schools, and classrooms. There are, of course, traditional schools teaching science, technology, maybe engineering, and mathematics separately. There are “STEM” schools where the learning seems to be different from what is provided in existing science and mathematics schools.
There are STEM networks, STEM centers, STEM departments, and STEM teachers. There are STEM programs and STEM instructional materials.
Can you help me in my investigation? How is STEM being implemented in your district, school, or classroom? What do you think should be the learning opportunities in STEM subjects for students?

Asset 2