The acronym STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. According to the US National Research Council and the National Science Foundation, these fields are collectively considered core technological underpinnings of an advanced society. In many forums, the strength of the STEM work force is viewed as an indicator of a nation’s ability to sustain itself.
Maintaining a citizenry well versed in STEM fields has become a key item on the public education agenda. In his 2006 State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush announced the American Competitiveness Initiative to address shortfalls in federal support of educational development at all academic levels in STEM fields. The initiative called for significant increases in federal funding for advanced R&D programs and an increase in higher education graduates within STEM disciplines.
In 2006, the US National Academies expressed concern about the declining state of STEM education. Its Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy developed a list of ten actions federal policy makers could take to advance STEM education. Their top three recommendations were to:
increase America’s talent pool by improving K-12 science and math education
strengthen teacher skills through additional training in science, math, and technology
enlarge the pipeline of students prepared to enter college and graduate with STEM degrees
The STEM Education Coalition works to support STEM programs for teachers and students at the US Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies that offer STEM-related programs.
Nearly all disciplines, from music to interior architecture, relate to STEM in some way. Some common STEM disciplines are: