As I mentioned in yesterday's post, my assessment group will be focusing on constructing some classroom tools which integrate and measure STEM and Educational Technology. In preparation, I have been asking for ideas from a variety of people and looking at countless online resources. After all of this, and in spite of being a science teacher for 17 years, I have decided that I really don't know what the hell STEM is.
At the surface level, the acronym represents science, technology (but not educational technology), engineering, and math. What I can't tell is whether this is supposed to just be a broad category of subjects...or something special that integrated two or more pieces.
Most of the STEM-touting Web sites I've seen for educators are very silo-like. Science lessons here...math lessons there. You might find a resource that addresses both science and math concepts or science and engineering---but the connections are forced...the alignment artificial. (And you know how much I hate that.) And don't get me started on the technology stuff. It's all hardware.
Maybe this is okay. Maybe it's really meant to be S-T-E-M, without any fusing between the areas. Somehow, I thought the integration and connection between content pieces should be the focus. Or maybe it's all of the above: Wild STEM, refusing to be tamed.
I just find it interesting that with all the talk and money being thrown at STEM these days, there is no standard for what it is. My hunch is that a lot of groups will say that they're all STEM, all the time in order to get some funding...but they have no more clue what they're doing than any other group. Is that really what we want?
While none of this will be sorted out before my group needs to write, I am fairly certain that we're going to go with an integrated model---not simply science + edtech or math + edtech. And maybe, just maybe, we'll prove that educational technology is "T" enough for STEM.