STEM Education

STEM is a curriculum that educates students in four specific disciplines.

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics

This applied approach integrates these disciplines into one blended learning environment based on real-world applications. STEM teaches students computational thinking. Students learn to solve problems for real world applications. STEM education begins with very young students.

Elementary School

Students in grades kindergarten through fifth or sixth grade are introduced to basic STEM concepts. Teachers use real world problem-based learning that is structured. All four STEM subjects are connected through standards and inquiry-based instruction. Students are also introduced to STEM fields and occupations.

The goal is to make STEM instruction fun and enjoyable for the students. Students are encouraged to develop an interest in learning more about STEM subjects. Students will want to continue to study STEM subjects in the higher grades. Elementary school students also have access to STEM learning opportunities after school and on weekends.

Middle School

STEM subjects are more rigorous and challenging. Student exploration of STEM related careers begins at this level. Underrepresented populations learn that there are better career opportunities for them when they study STEM subjects. Middle school students also learn what is expected of them academically once they have expressed an interest in pursuing STEM career opportunities.

High School

High school students are older and more mature. Many are preparing to attend colleges or universities. Students enroll in rigorous STEM courses. There are more STEM choices available to them. STEM programs of study revolve around the serious application of these subjects in a way that challenges them to develop critical thinking skills. This helps prepare them for post-secondary education and employment. Students are encouraged to participate in both in school and out-of-school STEM opportunities.

Reaching out to prospective STEM students

Much of the STEM curriculum is designed in a way that makes it attractive to underrepresented populations. Female students are less likely to pursue a college major or career. Male students are more likely to pursue engineering and technology fields. Female students prefer science fields including biology, chemistry and marine biology. According to the STEMconnect report, male students are three times more likely to be interested in a STEM career.

Ethnically, Asian students have historically displayed the highest level of interest in the STEM fields. Prior to 2001, African-American students showed high levels of interest in STEM. However, since then, African-American interest in STEM has dropped dramatically to lower than any other ethnic group. Other ethnicities with high STEM interest include American Indian students.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 16 percent of high school students are interested in a STEM career. Currently, nearly 28 percent of high school freshmen declare an interest in a STEM-related field. However, 57 percent of these students will lose interest by the time they graduate from high school.

Most STEM positions do not require a college degree. Less than half of entry-level STEM jobs require a bachelor’s degree or higher. According to a STEMconnect report, the average advertised starting salary for entry-level STEM jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree was 26 percent higher than jobs in the non-STEM fields.