What is STEM Education?
STEM education entails authentic learning experiences for all students with an interdisciplinary and applied approach where all fields connect in complex relationships. In today’s economy, problems are not solved in isolation of a specific discipline, but are solved through multiple approaches and perspectives. A strong STEM educational foundation helps to prepare our students for tomorrow’s world by emphasizing collaborative, innovative, quantitative and logical analysis rooted in a solid understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
How is STEM Education being refocused?
Recently there has been a shift in beliefs about the purpose of STEM education. Traditionally a STEM education focused on creating a pipeline of students whose educational backgrounds prepared them for a STEM-specific workforce. Today, the focus is on developing STEM-literate citizens necessary for success in any 21st century profession. STEM literacy is the ability to identify and acknowledge science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts and processes in everyday life.
STEM literacy comes from an understanding that it takes
- a scientific approach to observe and interpret the world;
- technology to serve as a tool to solve problems or reach a goal;
- engineering to design, test and solve a problem through the creation of products or processes; and
- mathematics to help quantify, comprehend and evaluate the problem and solution’s success.
As students become STEM literate citizens, they have the foundational content and the discipline processes to allow them make informed decisions and to participate in public/civil discourse concerning future STEM issues and technologies.
How does the vision for STEM education align with the Profile of a Virginia Graduate?
The Virginia Department of Education has aligned the vision for STEM education with the Profile of a Virginia Graduate. The Profile describes the knowledge, skills, experiences, and attributes that students must attain to be successful in college and/or the work force and to be life-ready in an economy and a world characterized by rapid change. Knowing facts and figures is not enough to prepare students for tomorrow’s future. Today’s economy requires people to be critical and creative thinkers, excellent communicators, collaborators and community-minded citizens. Developing well-rounded and prepared graduates starts early and must be a part of the learning environment in kindergarten through high school. The Virginia Department of Education will ensure that these vital skills are part of every student’s education.