What does STEM stand for in education?

Science, technology, engineering, and math

STEM stands for "science, technology, engineering, and math." It is most often used to describe an interdisciplinary approach to teaching those four subjects. For example, a teacher discussing STEM education is likely talking about their (or another) school's science, tech, and math curriculum.

Where did STEM originate?

While the National Science Foundation (NSF) popularized the STEM acronym in 2001, educators had been using STEM for decades prior. For example, in the early 1990s, Center for the Advancement of Hispanics in Science and Engineering Education director Charles E. Vela created a summer program for under-represented students called the STEM Institute. Vela later served on various NSF panels and introduced the agency to the STEM acronym.

Why are schools so concerned with STEM education?

Because each day, it seems like STEM knowledge and skills are increasingly necessary to function (and compete) in the modern world. According to the STEM section of the U.S. Department of Education's website, "[I]t's more important than ever that our nation's youth are prepared to ... solve problems, make sense of information, and ... gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions. These are the kinds of skills that students develop in science, technology, engineering, and math." So, that's why schools are so concerned with ensuring students receive comprehensive STEM education.


I'm thankful my school had a great STEM program
A use of STEM on Twitter
A use of STEM on Twitter

Related Slang


Updated June 24, 2021

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This page explains what the acronym "STEM" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the team.

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