STEM is an acronym, a superficial list of topics
What is STEM education?
Sad to say, “everyone” – well, the 40 teachers who participated in the study, still see STEM as “a superficial list of topics” rather than a “thing”. It is less “messy” to break this big idea into smaller more manageable (and teachable) parts with the intention of laying the foundation for the “big picture”. Unfortunately getting from teachable topics and units to some interesting and real-world applicable whole is “not my job” unless you are an upper division college engineering professor.
But there is hope. Skipping over the science models and going directly to the remaining models, the authors get to * Engineering is context — application and building is most important * STEM is an approximation for the engineering design process, which science, tech and math are part of * Real-world problem solving is the heart of STEM education; it best prepares students for college and careers * Science and engineering design are used equally — one can’t happen without the other * Integrated STEM where all the fields connect in complex relationships; this is the most nuanced of the models.
Most schools still have Science Fairs without any representation of Engineering. Most Science Fair participants, including “winners” do not have any idea about why any of this matters. The Menos experiment from the online science fair project sources doesn’t have a lot of real world applicability. The kids know this, but they are doing Science Fair project again this year because it is required.
It would be useful to get past saying the science and engineering design are used equally. Engineering is THE context — application and building is most important.