If you’re a parent or an educator and into educational toys, you may have heard the word “STEM” quite a bit over the last couple of years. What does STEM stand for? Why is it gaining popularity? And how does it relate to its daughter term “STEAM”? Here is everything you want to know.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Coming together to form this grand acronym, these four subjects are thought to represent the entire variety of skills and knowledge bases required for practical application and real-life success. When it comes to STEM education, the leading principles are:
- Doing over learning
- Implementation over Knowledge
- Creation over Replication
- Interaction over Teaching
- Integration over Separation
As you can see, the STEM approach is practical, hands-on, and target-orientated. It cuts out all the “fluff” associated with traditional methods of education and play, and focuses with laser-precision on how all our learning endeavors will actually be translated into real-life applications. Read more about STEM education vs traditional education here.
Why it Matters
Equipped with the understanding that the pace of progress is moving faster than ever before in our world today, this educational framework is geared towards ultra-specialized and functional knowledge. This approach is based on the understanding that the skills our kids learn today, will actually be useful for their future and be in line with the needs of a progressive society. When it comes to STEM education, it’s never too early. The STEM acronym which is based on the four pillars of human progress, is based on a philosophy that focuses on the real world and how our kids are going to fit in with it. This innovative and interdisciplinary approach makes a very clear stance that children are the future, and the way they will fit into society through these skills to better it, will also contribute greatly to their own self-fulfilment. Right now, humanity is progressing at break-neck speed. Technology is leading the way, engineering props up our hopes and dreams, while science and math oversee the show and give us their blessing. It follows that this quest for progress would have an impact on our kid’s education, met fortunately with their natural thirst for knowledge and inquisitive nature.
STEM vs STEAM
So, we understand what STEM is all about. So what about STEAM? What is the difference between these terms? This acronym is almost identical to the original term, but with the added “A” for “Art”. This important branching term indicates a truly beautiful understanding: the spectrum of human progress and education cannot be complete without art. Art includes of course language, dance, visual arts, and anything else that is the fruit of the creative human mind. At first, it may be tricky to understand why art is now considered an inseparable part of the original acronym, as the subject of art can be viewed as a very different field than science, technology, engineering, and math that all seem to interrelate in a clearer way. It is now agreed that STEAM education is the ultimate and all-encompassing framework of effective education – and this is especially crucial for kids. More on this topic here.
It’s good to know that education can be innovative and change over the years, in line with renewed understandings and adaptations to our modern world. Alongside STEM education, other buzzwords that are gaining speed are STEM Toys and STEAM Toys. This is for the simple reason that kids learn through play, and it’s never too early to start. The fact that the abstract term of “Educational Toys” has morphed into these newer terms shows a clear direction of where the field of educational play is heading, and that STEM is unquestionably part of our kids’ future.