You may have heard a lot about STEM education in schools over the last several years. Still, perhaps as a parent, you’re a little unsure how STEM differs from the traditional science and mathematics education of years past. 

What exactly is STEM?

STEM is an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. In the revolutionary digital age in which we live, education has evolved to keep in line with what today’s students need to succeed in college and careers. As a result, STEM moves beyond the transfer of science and math knowledge to an integrated approach that offers relevant learning experiences for students. 

What are the benefits of STEM education?

According to the National Science Foundation, “Education at all levels in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—STEM—develops, preserves, and disseminates knowledge and skills that convey personal, economic, and social benefits. Higher education provides the advanced work skills needed in an increasingly knowledge-intensive, innovation-focused economy and society.”

STEM education in schools allows students to develop much more than core science and math skills. It provides hands-on learning for:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving
  • Creative and diverse thinking
  • Meaningful collaboration and discussion
  • Acquisition of skills for entering the global job market

The United States Department of Education also highlights that prioritizing STEM initiatives offers equity to those historically underserved in education and underrepresented in science and technology, such as minorities and women. 

When does STEM education begin? 

Tomorrow’s researchers, medical professionals, and space explorers are today’s curious minds. As a result of knowing students will need a broader education that includes technology, states have implemented STEM initiatives from preschool education through grade 12. Young children are naturally curious, so early introduction of STEM education helps children continue down a life-long path of curiosity and exploration. 

 How can I help my child develop a STEM mindset?

Your children may already ask lots of questions, which even leave you perplexed. One of the greatest ways parents can support a STEM mindset is by joining their children’s curiosity. Offer a question in response to theirs like, “What made you think about that?” or a statement such as, “Let’s think about that together.” 

As adults, we can forget the beauty of a curious mind. By giving children opportunities to think deeper rather than providing them all the answers, we may be surprised by their astute observations and conclusions.