The Pittsburgh STEM Summit was full of exciting new information and offerings for the regional STEM community. There were many intriguing programs, internships, and opportunities being showcased, but I believe that the most beneficial presentation of the entire conference did something that was long overdue.
At this year’s Pittsburgh STEM Summit, STEM was finally defined. No, I’m not just talking about what the acronym stands for (which, in case you’re wondering, is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
Defining a STEM education can be complicated because there are so many offerings and initiatives that claim to be STEM-focused. While STEM is a broad term, there needs to be a more exact way of defining the criteria that makes up STEM programming.
Cynthia Pulkowski, Executive Director of ASSET STEM Education, proposed a definition of STEM and revealed ASSET’s goal to develop a STEM learning network in Pennsylvania.
Pulkowski’s definition offered a four-pillar system for evaluating STEM initiatives. The pillars included:
- Inquiry-based education
- An integrated curriculum
- Project-based group learning
- Career awareness
This four-pillar definition provides a more exact means of assessing the quality of STEM offerings and gives specific standards to those creating or purchasing STEM programming.
The most important thing in terms of STEM education is for all educators, innovators, legislators, administrators, and stakeholders to be speaking the same language. This new, more comprehensive and evaluative definition of STEM will finally allow everyone involved to understand one-another much more fluently than ever before. With this understanding will come the ability to create more quality partnerships for those within the STEM community and to set a much higher standard for STEM education within our region. For more information on Zulama’s STEM curriculums, check out our program.