STEM, STEAM, STREAM—What Does it Mean?
In 2006 a term began to gain momentum in education. The strategy and push began as a reaction to the fear that US students were unprepared for the oncoming growth in technology and the careers that would be needed to support them. STEM is an acronym that represents four areas of study: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The STEM push especially supports a more intensive approach for girls, as more antiquated thought follows the adage that girls are not as good at math and science pursuits than boys—and conversely that girls are better at the arts’ subjects. Of course, this stereotyping had to go—so, enter STEM!
STEM-based curriculum encourages the development of project-based learning. In a project-based approach to learning, students are first presented with a real-world problem or issue and then learn the content necessary to answer questions the problem poses. During the process of questioning, research, ideation and developing solutions, students enhance their problem-solving, project management, deductive reasoning, collaboration, and the leadership skills necessary for success in the world beyond the classroom—all invaluable for kids as they grow into young adults.
In 2018, the Department of Labor Statistics reported that the average salary for all occupations was $38,640.00. The average salary for non-STEM careers was $37,020.00, and the average compensation for a STEM-based job was $84,880.00 per year. Clearly, there is a substantial difference as a result of working hard and developing STEM-based skills and having a STEM-based career, vs. a non-STEM career, so the STEM emphasis is very important to securing a great opportunity for your child.
Fourteen years later the STEM curriculum emphasis is still going strong, but along the way, it gained a few more letters, A and R.
Let’s talk about those.
The “A” represents the Arts. Nurturing creativity is important to all phases of intellectual development. The integration of the arts adds another layer of enrichment to every learning experience. Make sure your kids are “designing” cool and creative materials to support their science fair projects! There are also children who learn and communicate visually. They may embrace coloring, painting or creating collages to demonstrate their knowledge, while some children will learn best through writing, acting or singing.
The addition of the “R” brings Reading into the equation. Reading comprehension provides the foundation for everything. We learn by absorbing information and then applying it to each subject we encounter— be it learning the steps to an experiment or math problem, researching the history behind discovery, or gathering information for a report or paper. Reading encourages kids to ask questions, talk about what they’ve read, and engage in critical thinking.
As you can probably tell, the best approach to learning is finding a curriculum that layers in all types of subject matter and varies the application of how kids demonstrate that knowledge. Encourage your child’s strengths and keep working with them on subjects they find challenging. In the end, they’ll find their way!