STEM education is a teaching approach that combines science, technology, engineering and math. Its recent successor, STEAM, also incorporates the arts, which have the “ability to expand the limits of STEM education and application,” according to Stem Education Guide. STEAM is designed to encourage discussions and problem-solving among students, developing both practical skills and appreciation for collaborations. Rather than teach the five disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.
According to the U.S. Department of Education(opens in new tab)
“In an ever-changing, increasingly complex world, it’s more important than ever that our nation’s youth are prepared to bring knowledge and skills to solve problems, make sense of information, and know how to gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions.”
History of STEM:
In 2009, the Obama administration announced the “Educate to Innovate” campaign to motivate and inspire students to excel in STEAM subjects. This campaign also addresses the inadequate number of teachers skilled to educate in these subjects. The Department of Education now offers a number of STEM-based programs including research programs with a STEAM emphasis, STEAM grant selection programs and general programs that support STEAM education
The Importance of Stem Education
With projected increases in STEM-related occupations, there needs to be an equal increase in STEM education efforts to encourage students into these fields otherwise the skill gap will continue to grow. STEM jobs do not all require higher education or even a college degree. Less than half of entry-level STEAM jobs require a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, a four-year degree is incredibly helpful with salary — the average advertised starting salary for entry-level STEM jobs with a bachelor’s requirement was 26 percent higher than jobs in the non-STEM fields. For every job posting for a bachelor’s degree recipient in a non-STEAM field, there were 2.5 entry-level job postings for a bachelor’s degree recipient in a STEM field.
STEM Blended Learning:
What separates STEAM from 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. As mentioned before, STEAM education begins while students are very young:
Elementary school — STEAM education focuses on the introductory level STEAM courses, as well as awareness of the STEAM fields and occupations. This initial step provides standards-based structured inquiry-based and real-world problem-based learning, connecting all four of the STEAM subjects. The goal is to pique students’ interest into them wanting to pursue the courses, not because they have to. There is also an emphasis placed on bridging in-school and out-of-school STEAM learning opportunities.
Middle school — At this stage, the courses become more rigorous and challenging. Student awareness of STEAM fields and occupations is still pursued, as well as the academic requirements of such fields. Student exploration of STEAM-related careers begins at this level, particularly for underrepresented populations.
High school — The program of study focuses on the application of the subjects in a challenging and rigorous manner. Courses and pathways are now available in STEAM fields and occupations, as well as preparation for post-secondary education and employment. More emphasis is placed on bridging in-school and out-of-school STEAM opportunities. Much of the STEAM curriculum is aimed toward attracting underrepresented populations. There is a significant disparity in the female to male ratio when it comes to those employed in STEAM fields, according to Stem Women Approximately 1 in 4 STEAM graduates is female.
Challenges to STEM Education in Pakistan:
Lack of Resources: STEM education practices by private more than public education. Therefore, there is a lack of laboratories, equipment, and other resources needed to teach STEM. The findings have also suggested that this curriculum is more advanced and expensive in comparison with the conventional curriculum. Nonetheless, the outcomes from implementing this curriculum are yet to achieve, because STEM education in Pakistan has not prevailed comprehensively.
Moreover, it also becomes necessary to mention that the unfavorable economic conditions and industrial structure are also some constraints that are not helping this education in the country. However, the researcher has also suggested that soon as the country attains sustainability in its economic condition, there will be higher chances to achieve the desired outcomes and objectives of this curriculum plan. The reason behind this is that with sustainability and
development in the industrial sector, more STEM-based jobs can be generated. In developed countries, the concept of STEM education and that is designing the students’ curriculum more centered on core subjects like Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics has prevailed more significantly in comparison with developed countries like Pakistan, where the education structure is already declining.