In the field of education, the term STEM or STEAM have only been used for a short time. In 2001, the term STEM was introduced by the science administrators of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). It was used to describe science, technology, engineering and math and discuss the importance of these fields of study. These fields of study were grouped together to show how they are linked and that all need to be a focus in education. Since the beginning the NSF has been a strong financial supporter of STEM education and related fields as careers.
A big boost in the STEM and STEAM fields came in 2011, when President Obama said that “This was our generation’s Sputnik moment” and called on the United States to ramp up our work in innovations so that we can keep up with other countries. In the speech President Obama called for more money to be used on 21st Century skills that are the core of the STEM and STEAM components. This has prompted educators from the across the United States to devote more time and energy in promoting STEM in their local school districts.
A few years later a push was made to add arts to the curriculum. The push to add arts to STEM was championed by John Maeda. His thinking was that STEM was designed to foster the spirit of innovation; it was a natural addition to include arts. His belief was that since thinking and creativity are involved in the arts, and that they are also a big part of innovation.
STEM and STEAM education was put into place to encourage students to be more invested in the scientific fields, so that they continue on to careers in the field. But not only are students encouraged to enter these fields, these occupations are becoming some of the best paying jobs in today’s market. There is a continued growth in these occupations and many are having salaries that are above national averages. However, one of the areas that need continued addressing is getting girls interested in STEM and STEAM. While girls make up more than half of the population only 15% of people in the engineering field are women, and only 25% are in mathematical and computer sciences. One of the goals is to get more girls involved in STEM and STEAM.