Annie’s STEM Lab: What is STEM?

As Explore & More’s STEM Educator, I am excited to have this platform to share a little more about the subject matter I am so passionate about! I thought the best way to kick off this monthly series of educational blurbs, would be starting with the STEM basics!  

What is STEM in education exactly? STEM is the new advanced way Educators are looking at “science class.” As simply put in the name, this includes more than just one subject matter, while adding technology, engineering, and mathematics to the traditional subject of science! I truly believe STEM is a wonderful breakthrough in education, and it can deepen a learner’s understanding on the subject material.  

Let’s look at an example of a difference in teaching with a STEM mindset, versus the traditional Science class mindset. In a science class in the past, you might have began your new science unit, “All About Weather” in a now-dated learning method. Here, you might read your science textbook, look over some bold- print vocabulary words, and write some notes in your composition notebook while the teacher shows a presentation on the board. Here, you are actively listening, however, you might be wishing you could do something like a hands-on experiment to liven up the lesson experience!  

With STEM integration, learners are using their minds and hands to create, engineer, and design, all while tied to the same subject framework. The goal is to combine multi-subjects, all while having a strong connection throughout the subject areas, to enhance learning and understanding. In a STEM classroom, the same lesson about weather would become more muti-subject friendly, fun, and hands-on! In this example about weather, students will build interest as they are asked to track data of their environment over a period of time, learning the weather in their own community, and then involving mathematics to gather the average temperature over the course of the unit. This brings in analyzing and tracking data with mathematics into the science lesson. In addition, this often involves a hands-on experiment displaying and informing the different types of weather in the student’s community, with other elements of different subject areas embedded inside. STEM in the classroom, when completed at its best, can be a truly rewarding experience for all learners! This becomes a much more comprehensive and enriching experience for all. 

Here at Explore and More, my goal is to have every activity carefully planned and crafted to have as many STEM elements included in the lesson as possible. This always includes a hands-on element and is backed up by the Next Generation Science Standards, which are learning standards used in public schools. Guests truly are learning through play here, even if they do not realize! I encourage you to please visit me and the rest of the wonderful staff in the Tinkering Tank at your next visit to Explore and More, and become a STEM expert!