What is STEM? A Beginner's Guide to STEM

What is STEM? A Beginner's Guide to STEM

While science and math have been in schools for a long time, many parents ask 'what is STEM'? and wonder how it will help their children in the real world.

There are a number of benefits of STEM education for kids. It can improve your child's problem-solving skills, teach them how to work with others, and increase their interest in learning. Those are just a few benefits, but there are tons more!

For those who wish to understand what STEM is, we've put together our beginner's guide to help you.

What does STEM stand for?

The term STEM may be one that you have heard before. In fact, educators and leaders often talk about the importance of STEM education for the next generation. But what is STEM?

STEM is the acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, STEM covers 100 jobs, and 93 of those have wages above the national average. Moreover, the industries have seen above-average growth.

STEM education also teaches students an analytical approach to their work. At Engineering for Kids, students use the engineering design process as a guide. It involves designing, testing, and redesigning their work, if necessary. The approach benefits not only STEM projects but any other life situation.

What is the difference between STEM and STEAM learning?

girl creating STEM project

Educators have long emphasized STEM subjects for students. For one, these careers offer stability and high paychecks. Also, growth in STEM areas has also outpaced annual employment growth for nearly a decade.

STEM is the core learning of science, tech, engineering, and math. The main difference between STEM vs STEAM learning is their approach to scientific concepts. STEM is the classic approach to solving scientific problems. It teaches hard skills in order to find solutions.

Think about engineering designs and science experiments done over hundreds of years. Well, this is in fact, STEM. For example, a STEM engineer uses hard skills to build a functioning, safe bridge.

However, there has been a movement to add an arts component to STEM learning. With STEAM learning, students study science, engineering, technology, and math. But, they have a different approach to the scientific process.

STEAM incorporates dance, visual arts, drama, and other creative subjects to help solve problems. It focuses on soft skills and encourages using STEM methods with creative solutions. For example, one artist has created jewellery to help diabetics with insulin.

With a foundation of STEM concepts and education, kids gain so many benefits.

Benefits of STEM Education

group of kids working on STEM project

Besides better career prospects, there are other advantages of STEM education. These include:

Develop Critical Thinking

Learning STEM subjects allows students to see problems in different ways. Which in turn helps them become better problem solvers.

Through STEM, they learn a systematic way of approaching challenges. Then, students can better analyze a problem and develop a plan to solve it.

Cultivate Curiosity

Students in STEM education will be encouraged to ask questions like 'why' or 'how'. They must discover the answer using their STEM skills.

They will explore and use their imagination to find the answers to their questions. Often, it leads to more questions and discoveries. Which helps engage students deeper and gets them more invested in their education.

Enhances Cognition

STEM learning equips students with the ability to think through problems and challenges. It gives them a better approach to learning and improves their cognitive capabilities.

One study found that cognition improved as students worked through STEM processes. This finding demonstrates that STEM education can lead to more meaningful learning for students.

kids working on STEM robot

Improved Research Skills

With STEM instruction, students are encouraged to think carefully. Also, they learn to seek facts and data in their problem-solving efforts.

Instructors teach students how to research to find answers and support their projects. These skills can transfer over to other areas of their lives. Which will help them navigate any decisions and challenges they may face.

Advance Communication Capability

STEM learning encourages students to work together to solve a challenge. They learn how to communicate their ideas and work with others during this process.

There are two main ways STEM students advance their communication skills. First, by discussing ideas and second, by giving and receiving feedback. They are also required to actively listen to others in the group.

Expands Tech Aptitude

Many of today's students are fairly knowledgeable about technology. But, STEM education helps students see technology as a tool for innovation and problem-solving.

What's more, it teaches kids to use technology in different ways. Uses include building robots, designing apps, and more. They may also come into contact with new technologies they have never experienced. Understanding more about tech's capability helps them adapt to an ever-changing, tech-reliant world.

Creates Collaborative Attitude

Students will often work together as a team during STEM learning challenges. Which in turn helps them understand the ins and outs of teamwork and collaboration.

This is an invaluable skill to learn. Throughout school and in workplaces, they will need to work well as a team to accomplish tasks. With STEM, students can advance their understanding of leadership, communication, and collaboration.

STEM Careers

girl creating STEM project

STEM covers a wide variety of opportunities in different fields. From computing to architecture, students with STEM skills will have many opportunities. They will be able to find a job that interests and challenges them. Some interesting STEM careers are:

Computer Science

For those who love all things computing, this is an excellent field. STEM education can teach students how to design, develop, and implement software solutions. At Engineering for Kids, kids can even learn how to code.

This field includes everything from app development to cloud computing. Your child could potentially work as a web developer or programmer.

Automation Engineer

Students will be able to create machines for automation. An automation engineer's responsibilities include designing, developing, and testing these machines.

Organizations are using more automation every day. This is due to the cost savings, improved productivity and accuracy for some tasks.


Physicians need a solid background in STEM so they understand the human body. They will use this knowledge to help patients with wellness issues.

Many doctors are also becoming more reliant on technology. So students will need to gain some experience in this area too.


The role of a statistician is to analyze and interpret data in order to develop conclusions. This information can be valuable to an industry or organization. It can help executives better understand how to guide their corporations. Or, data can help non-profits pinpoint needs in their communities.

STEM Centers and Programs

group of kids collaborating

STEM centers and programs help students explore STEM topics deeper. Many elementary school teachers use STEM centers to engage and challenge students. Programs can include a variety of STEM activities that engage kids.

At Engineering for Kids, kids of all ages can learn robotics, engineering, coding, and so much more. Not to mention, they will have a blast while learning!

In the stem programs, they could work together to build a robot to traverse the Martian landscape. Or, find out about the wonders of static electricity. They will conduct all the experiments using the engineering design process.

The benefit of STEM programs is that there are endless possibilities for activities. Once you introduce kids to the exciting world of STEM, they will want to continue learning. This in turn allows students to develop a comprehensive understanding of STEM subjects.

How E4K encourages STEM learning in students

Engineering for Kids STEM program

Now that you understand what STEM is, you can see why it is so important. It can help kids in their lives, school, and future careers. At Engineering For Kids (E4K), we introduce students to STEM with engaging and fun programs. They will continue to develop their STEM understanding with every project and activity.

With our after-school programs and summer camps, students can go beyond classroom learning. Here, they can also cultivate their creativity and career opportunities.

Find Engineering for Kids locations today. Help inspire the next generation of engineers!