Many individuals have heard the acronym "STEM" or "STEAM", especially over the recent past years. But what does that mean?
We are here to clarify the mystery of STEM & STEAM!
S.T.E.M. or S.T.E.A.M. is an educational approach that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.
What is S.T.E.M. / S.T.E.A.M?
S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M. is a term coined by the National Science Foundation to encourage teaching the four domains of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Later on, Art was included in these domains as well.
We are in a generation where S.T.E.M. skills are a necessity for everyday life! Teaching all children S.T.E.M. skills early is key for their development and growth.
Why teach S.T.E.M. or S.T.E.A.M. to neurodivergent students?
Research shows that individuals on the autism spectrum are more likely than others to pursue S.T.E.M. related education and jobs, particularly in the computer sciences, BUT they also have one of the lowest college enrolment rates.
A common autistic trait is having systemizing abilities -- being able to predict and control systems, and being able to analyze and build rule-based systems. This means that some neurodivergent individuals may be naturally inclined to certain S.T.E.M. skill sets!
It is important that autistic students interested in these four/five domains get access to S.T.E.M. learning early! This is key to helping them find their passion and strengths within S.T.E.M., while fostering the early development of these skills.
S.T.E.M. is hands-on and fun! S.T.E.M. learning fosters curiosity, problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity!
I acknowledge that I, myself, am not neurodivergent and that this post may contain biases to my own personal and neurotypical experiences. I continue to listen and learn from autistic and other neurodivergent individuals in order to do better in my work of disseminating accessible S.T.E.M. learning.
I also aim to avoid ableist language. Many autistic individuals have expressed preference for identity first language vs. person-first language. I respectfully use identity first language in my writing. We also recognize that there are individuals whom prefer person-first language.