I've been thinking a lot about STEM programs lately. It is a very common word/language that is bubbling up in schools. And I feel like a lot of companies are putting the label of STEM on things that don't quite deserve it. There is a lot of activity out there that is being called STEM that I'm honestly not quite sure lives up to the amazing possibilities of its name.
So, I guess that has been leading me down a path of trying to sort out what STEM means, how could it be defined. As a former science teacher, I get the S in STEM and now as an edtech consultant, I understand the T, and as a maker and science teacher with the NextGen standards, I've been learning more about the E and how that can frame the process. For me the M is everywhere, but not truly fleshed out (for me at least). What I guess I'm saying is that I feel pretty comfortable with most of those letters :) - but I think that a lot of teachers turn away from STEM because one of those letters scares them.
I think it's also important to think about some of the trends that are going on right now past STEM, there are many people talking about design thinking, and more people exploring the maker movement. I feel like some are even using the words interchangeably. But, I personally don't feel like they are the same. I feel like engineers are driven by questions, looking at systems and structures and questioning their integrity and could it be better, striving for a constant loop of improvement. I feel like designers are driven by people and developing that ultimate connection through empathy. I feel like makers are simply driven by curiosity of possibilities of what if? But there is a TON of overlap and commonalities of these types and honestly a Venn Diagram fails to provide enough room to allow me to pursue this train of thought.
But I'm super curious, what do you think? What commonalities do you see between makers, designers, and engineers? Do you even see them as linked or separated? I'd love to talk through this more, so leave me a comment and let me know what you think.