With the prominence that the concept of STEM has achieved in educational discourse over the past few years, it's no surprise that a number of people are proposing variations on the basic theme. You may already have heard of STEAM, which intends to integrate art into the curriculum defined by the basic quartet of science, technology, engineering and mathematics; others have proposed STREAM (which adds reading and art) and STEMSS (adding social studies).
But while the proposals for expanding STEM are driven by a desire to broaden and diversify the subjects a student will be exposed to, there's also a view emerging that STEM itself is too broad a category: it's oriented towards preparing students for careers in a highly technical workplace, but those careers could range from academia or research science through bridge design to computer programming or hardware maintenance, and one program will not meet all of these needs. We can expect more proposals to modify the basic idea of STEM, making it more flexible or more focused, in the coming months.
By: Michael Walpole