What is STEM?

Specific disciplines - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.

What separates STEM from the traditional science and math education is the blended learning environment and showing students how the scientific method can be applied to everyday life. It teaches students computational thinking and focuses on the real world applications of problem solving.

The Obama administration announced the 2009 "Educate to Innovate" campaign to motivate and inspire students to excel in STEM subjects. This campaign also addresses the inadequate number of teachers skilled to educate in these subjects. The goal is to get American students from the middle of the pack in science and math to the top of the pack in the international arena.

The Obama administration's 2014 budget invests $3.1 billion in federal programs on STEM education, with an increase of 6.7 percent over 2012. The investments will be made to recruit and support STEM teachers, as well as support STEM-focused high schools with STEM Innovation Networks. The budget also invests into advanced research projects for education, to better understand next-generation learning technologies

STEM generally supports broadening the study of engineering within each of the other subjects, and beginning engineering at younger grades, even elementary school. It also brings STEM education to all students rather than only the gifted programs.

The United States National Academies Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy developed a list of 10 actions federal policy makers could take to advance STEM education in the United States to compete successfully in the 21st century. Their top three recommendations were to:
i) increase America's talent pool by improving K-12 science and mathematics education;
ii) strengthen the skills of teachers through additional training in science, math and technology; and
iii) enlarge the pipeline of students prepared to enter college and graduate with STEM degrees.
iv) The National Aeronautics and Space Administration also has implemented programs and curricula to advance STEM education in order to replenish the pool of scientists, engineers and mathematicians who will lead space exploration in the 21st century.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a leading provider of STEM education curricular programs to middle and high schools in the United States. The national non-profit organization has over 5,200 programs in over 4,700 schools in all 50 states. Programs include a high school engineering curriculum called Pathway To Engineering, a high school Biomedical Sciences program, and a middle school engineering and technology program called Gateway To Technology. PLTW provides the curriculum and the teacher professional development and ongoing support to create transformational programs in schools, districts, and communities. PLTW programs have been endorsed by President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as well as various state, national, and business leaders.

In January 2014, the U.S. House Research and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing to examine STEM education programs run by the private sector. In 2014, the U.S. federal government plans to spend $3 billion on STEM education programs through a variety of federal agencies.

The Department of Commerce notes STEM fields careers are some of the best-paying and have the greatest potential for job growth in the early 21st century. The report also notes that STEM workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy, and training in STEM fields generally results in higher wages, whether or not they work in a STEM field.

What is STEAM?

STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics. The idea of emphasizing these subjects in delivering the curriculum has been driven by the business community, with the goal of preparing an agile and competitive workforce. It is important to note that STEAM is not a program, but a philosophy. STEAM skills are vital for success in the 21st century and critical to our collective future.

STEAM (Art) -Some have discussed the need for product design in marketing new technologies, and point to the successes of Apple, which combines technology and functionality with usability and style.