What is STEM Education?

What is STEM Education?

The acronym STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It is the process of teaching that integrates these four disciplines to promote real-world experience, teamwork, and the authentic application of technology.  Additional information can be found at the STEM Education Coalition 

PDF DocumentSTEM Definition

What is STEM education? This short video shows some examples of STEM education in Wayne County, Michigan.

STEM 2026: A Vision for Innovation in STEM Education

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education, in collaboration with American Institutes for Research (AIR), convened a series of workshops that brought together invited STEMexperts and thought leaders to share their ideas and recommendations for an innovative future of STEM education.

Nearly 30 individuals, representing a wide range of expertise, contributed to this project.

This report synthesizes the key observations, considerations, and recommendations put forth by the participants under the auspices of an aspirational vision for STEM education, or "STEM 2026." Read: STEM 2026: A Vision for Innovation in STEM Education

Why is STEM education important?

The future of Michigan depends on its ability to boost student performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Young people in Michigan will increasingly face stiff competition for jobs from people across the world, and to succeed in the global economy, students will need a much stronger foundation in STEM subject areas.

In the STEM Vital Signs report, Change the Equation has compiled critical data on the condition of STEM learning in Michigan. We provide these data to inform vigorous conversations about what it will take to improve STEM learning in the state. While there are no silver bullet fixes, the state can boost student outcomes by focusing on some key areas. For example:

  • Hold the line on high expectations.
  • Focus on achievement gaps.
  • Improve preparation for college.
  • Foster more engaging science instruction.

Additional Resources


What Makes Something Stem?

  • The Chicago STEM Education Consortium has recommendations for Illinois that may give all states some guidance. View the full report
  • FabFems is a database that includes professional women in STEM careers, with the goal to inspire girls.
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering) STEM Lesson Plans for K-12 classes. View the 86 Lesson Plans IEEE has developed.
  • STEM Education Quality Framework, Powered by Washington STEM
  • STEM School Blog has resources related to STEM education
  • Triangle Coalition's mission is to bring together the voices of government, business, and education to improve the quality and outcome of STEM education
  •  Gaming2Learn This NSF funded project teaches STEM content through interactive video games
  • The University of Cincinatti is the hub of SW Ohio STEM education network. Their resource page has many STEM support materials
  • Project-Based Learning
  • Why do today's students choose STEM over other fields of study such as business, law, or the arts? Income? Passsion?
  • Microsoft's new study looks at both why students choose STEM and also parental attitudes toward STEM education. Read the full blog post and download the report at: STEMReports.com
  • STEMConnect - The one-stop shop for who's doing what in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Successful K-12 STEM Education

Large percentages of Michigan students say they seldom design science experiments or write reports about science projects. Strategies for addressing this problem include providing professional development and classroom materials to help teachers get their students fully engaged.

The National Research Council published the book, Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics  Click on the book title above to download a free pdf version of the book or browse below:

STEM Integration In K-12 Education

NRC Report - STEM Integration In K-12 Education: Status, Prospects, and an Agenda for Research. The committee's charge was to develop a research agenda for determining the approaches and conditions most likely to lead to positive outcomes of integrated STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education at the K-12 level in the United States. In fulfilling that charge, the committee identified and characterized existing approaches to integrated STEM education, in both formal and after-school and informal settings. It also reviewed the evidence for the impact of integrated approaches on various parameters of interest, such as greater student awareness, interest, motivation, and achievement in STEM subjects; improved college-readiness skills; and boosts in the number and quality of students who may consider a career in a STEM-related field.

Motivating Adolescents in Mathematics and Science

From NSTA: New Study Finds Parents Play an Instrumental Role in Promoting Student's Interest in Stem

A new study, Helping Parents to Motivate Adolescents in Mathematics and Science: An Experimental Test of a Utility-Value Intervention, published in Psychological Science, suggests that a simple intervention with parents led students to take on more math and science classes in their last two years of high school.

The experiment involved sending parents two brochures and the link to a website, all highlighting the importance and value of studying STEM subjects. To assure parents paid attention, they asked parents to evaluate the website. A control group of parents and kids received none of the information.

Get Flash to see this player.

Archived webinar

Greg Johnson explores STEM education and its connection to Dimension 1 of the Next Generation Science Standards and Project Based Learning.

The National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools (NCSSS) defines a STEM school as those schools that prepare students to be leaders in global innovation by engaging them in rigorous, relevant, and integrated learning experiences, with a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics focus and specialization that include authentic research school-wide.

The Michigan TRAC Program

Standards for Engineering, Technology, and the Applications of Science

Engineering is Elementary Resources

National Center for Technology Literacy

Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies

Reynoldsburg City Schools has a K-12 STEM pipeline, high school career-based academies, college course work starting in the ninth grade, and utilizes blended learning.
Reynoldsburg District Report Card

Engineering Everywhere - Free engineering curriculum for middle school-aged youth in afterschool and camp programs.

Teaching NGSS Engineering Design Through Media

STEM Teaching Tools Aligned with the NGSS