STEM … plus plus plus = ???

So STEM. I talked about what it means to me in an earlier brief post. I most often hear it as an acronym for “science, technology, engineering, and math,” as in “STEM Education” (in fact, my professional title includes STEM Education). However, operationally, educators struggle with what it means to be STEM. This, among other problems, has implications for what gets grant funding to try and investigate the effectiveness of a STEM approach. Are we integrating all of these topics in one class? Are we teaching all of them side-by-side? Is it sufficient to integrate just two at a time? How do we actually go about integrating any of these topics together, anyway? What do we mean by “technology”? And the list goes on … Even the federal government’s support of STEM Education seems to reflect a lack of a single answer on this subject.

To add to that confusion, there are now so many groups that want to support this/these efforts (or cynically, hitch their wagon to the popular train), that it has, to my mind, gotten ridiculous. To wit, here is a complete list of all the STEM “plus” or alternative versions I have heard, in no particular order:

STEAM (Arts, sometimes Agriculture)

Ag-STEM (Agriculture)

C-STEM (computers/computing/computer science)

STEM+H (health)

STEM, where the M is medicine instead of math

I-STEAM (innovation)

S-STEM (spatial, i.e. geography/GIS)

S-STEM (space)

If I use all of these different letters as a separate topic and try to make an anagram with a helpful, fun, mnemonic such as STEM, Anagrammer gives me an untold number of options. Some of the problems with STEM plus plus plus are reflected in the words that could result: “chasm,” “mess,” and an anagram of the acronym of my favorite geometric theorem: side-angle-side, which I think some of this chaos of STEM plus plus plus makes educators and researchers look like!

So forgive me if I continue to use “science” to encompass all ya’ll’s flavors. I agree simply calling everything “science” doesn’t really adequately encompass the subtly different ways of thinking that some of these disciplines embody, but I think STEM (especially with all its add-ons) has gotten out of hand. It also remains to be seen who outside of education and research disciplines even know what we’re talking about when we discuss science (especially as a systematic way of thinking), let alone STEM. For now, I’m choosing to say science as the least inside baseball. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions (and more versions of STEM plus!).


Posted: September 24, 2015

Tags: Katie Stofer


Katie Stofer

May 23, 2022

Hi Yilmazcan, I don't have that answer for you. I would suggest you reach out to the company, Pufferfish, Ltd., to get a more detailed answer and specifications. Apologies for the long delay on seeing your comment!

Katie Stofer

May 3, 2019

Great, thanks for reading and for sharing your experience! I think all manner of faculty research support is welcome and a great option.

Kim Taylor Kruse
May 2, 2019

Fundraising can be another option. I have a bachelor's in biology and master's in science communication, and I work with university faculty to identify and secure funding from companies and foundations.

Kathryn (Katie) Stofer
August 17, 2018

So a followup on this - I have installed the extension in my browser, and when registering for a conference, it contextualizes the numbers for me. I haven't tried it on airfare or lodging though! friday and saturday Early rate: $300 [≈ cost of PS3 gaming system, 2011] Standard (9/8/18 on): $375 [≈ cost of a suit] friday only Early rate: $250 [≈ cost of PS3 gaming system, 2011] Standard (9/8/18 on): $325

Yılmazcan Mutlu
February 23, 2018

Dear nikitasoni238 , Thank you for sharing your Interactive Global Screen experience. I am doing my research on this subject. I have had the chance to look into the product in detail as much as I can see in the photos. I know they use wide angles as lenses. Do you have any idea about how many mm? Best regards

March 23, 2016

Now I've found two more "D"'s added to STEM: STEM-D for design and disaster (as in education about natural disasters using STEM).

Katie Stofer

December 9, 2014

Update: this morning I picked up my latest issue of GSA Today, from the Geological Society of America. Their "Groundwork" commentary article describes a similar issue in fieldwork versus quantitative data, especially compounded by a bias in funding:

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