The Importance of STEM Education
STEM education is the cross-curricular study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and the application of those subjects in real-world contexts. As students engage in STEM education, they develop the transferable skills that they need to meet the demands of today’s global economy and society, and to become scientifically and technologically literate citizens.
STEM education helps students develop an understanding and appreciation of each of the core subjects of science, technology, and mathematics. At the same time, it supports a more holistic understanding and application of skills and knowledge related to engineering design and innovation. STEM learning integrates and applies concepts, processes, and ways of thinking associated with these subjects to enable students to design economical, ethical, innovative, and sustainable solutions to technical and complex real-world problems.
Skills developed through STEM education include computational thinking, coding, innovation, and scientific and engineering design. These skills are in high demand in today’s globally connected world, as advancements in science and technology continue to impact all areas of our lives, and they form a critical component of the science and technology curriculum. Students use an engineering design process and associated skills to design, build, and test devices, models, structures, and systems, and they write and execute code in investigations and when modelling concepts.
Approaches to STEM education may vary across Ontario schools. STEM-related subjects may be taught separately, but cross-curricular connections should form a part of student learning. Strand A of the science and technology curriculum focuses on the STEM skills and connections that frame learning in the other four strands: Life Systems, Matter and Energy, Structures and Mechanisms, and Earth and Space Systems. Strand A also provides opportunities for critical cross-curricular learning as students consider the connections between science and technology and other subject areas.
Classroom activities focused on solving real-world problems and on understanding practical applications of concepts can combine components from two or more STEM-related subjects and can include contexts related to the student’s home and community or to various occupations, including the skilled trades. The integration of a number of STEM-related subjects can reinforce students' understanding of each subject and of the interrelationships among them.
Curriculum expectations related to exploring Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing can create opportunities for inclusive and impactful integrative studies. Diverse perspectives engage students in a variety of creative and critical thinking processes that are essential for developing innovative, ethical, and effective solutions to societal and environmental problems.
The themes and components of STEM education are woven throughout the science and technology curriculum to ensure that Ontario educators and students become innovators and leaders for ethical and sustainable change in society and the workforce, and to create opportunities in our diverse communities to foster integrative thinking and problem solving. The curriculum also supports the development of scientific and technological literacy in students, enabling them to better appreciate, understand, and navigate the world in which they live.