Monday, June 6, 2011

What is STEM?

That is a question that many are trying to figure out. There are several groups all around the county who are trying to create a working definition of STEM. After being in a meeting like that, I decided to ask that question on Twitter.

Here are the answers from Twitter to "What is STEM? How do you explain it to someone? Different if they are in education or not?"

Now there were some who gave me very "smart" answers:
  • @evmaiden: a stem is a part of a plant that supports the plant above soil
  • @web20classroom: Science Technology Engineering and Math. Is that a trick question? :)
I work or have worked with both of those individual, so that was the answer they gave since they knew that it was me who was asking the question. Unfortunately those two answers are probably very similar to ones most people would give.

I was impressed (and very thankful) to receive so many great ideas to answer my question:
  • @eva_teach: Science, Technology, Engineering, Math - I am not sure how to define it, but I can describe it.
  • @bebener: STEM is a sustainable culture of learning...
  • @bebener: maths is the language of science, engineering optimizes technology...
  • @bebener: technology defines current reality, science creates new knowledge using technology
  • @jottingmatt: STEM: education focusing on connecting science, tech, engineering, and math. "Look at NASA..." is what I tell my non-edu friends.
  • @jottingmatt: STEM is also integrating TPCK model/concept into our everyday curriculum - for those of us in education.
  • @pressn4truth: The science community is aware of STEM. @FoxNews had a spot about it earlier.
  • @web20classroom: STEM is the preparing kids for jobs and a future unknown. It is a part of total learning experience. It is not THE learning experience.
When I was asked this question recently, I said that STEM was the critical and creative thinking/action that was involved with and in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. A person not in the education field stated that to him STEM was the basis for innovation and creative problem solving that can be applied to the 21st Century Global Marketplace.

The discussions we had around definitions seemed to boil down to skills such as:
  • critical thinking
  • innovation
  • creation
  • collaboration
  • communication
  • reflection
  • planning
As a person with a strong background in reading and art, the ideas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math were ones that I was not very interested in or felt I was not very good at (which is a bit odd considering my job now). Even though I may not consider myself very strong in those subject areas, I think I have strengths in many of those skills, which I think is just another indicator of the ways that all things are connected.

I also think the response from @eva_teach about knowing how to describe it but not define it seems to fit my thinking too. So even though I don't really have an exact answer to share with you to the question in the title, the ideas shared with me are making me think (and even re-think) about STEM ...

*On a side note, I really enjoy finding and sharing STEM-related resources, I have written a blog post previously with some linked resources and would love to find out about more, so if you have some you recommend, please send them my way!!

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