Why study STEM?

STEM education refers to:

Providing students with opportunities to engage with STEM learning experiences has many benefits.  Students:

Core Principles of STEM Education

In alignment with the learning outcomes of Nā Hopena Aʻo (HĀ), STEM education provides opportunities for students to draw upon and integrate the STEM learning areas to address local or global issues and solve problems in learning environments that encourage innovation, creative thinking, and collaboration.  Due to its student-driven nature, STEM education inherently allows for personalization and choice with learning experiences and therefore becomes a natural vehicle for ensuring equity. 

Research on STEM education recognizes several characteristics that represent quality STEM learning experiences, as synthesized by the FAIR features:

At elementary levels, STEM integration can occur flexibly during the day, as science, engineering, and technology learning objectives are integrated with ELA and mathematics when appropriate.  In middle school and in some secondary models, grade-level teams can co-plan extended multidisciplinary STEM units. In both middle and secondary schools, teachers may coordinate their instruction in small-scale interdisciplinary STEM units, draw on each others’ expertise to integrate a new STEM concept into their individual courses, or facilitate transdisciplinary STEM learning experiences in elective courses.  

Where is STEM education headed?

Drawing upon the FAIR features of STEM learning experiences, the table below presents future shifts in STEM education that will optimize learning, improve curriculum coherence and expand STEM learning opportunities for all students in Hawai‘i. 



STEM as the integrated learning of the four STEM subjects.

STEM as the purposeful integration of some or all STEM subjects and, when appropriate for the learning goals, non-STEM subjects.

STEM associated with only a few specific topics/contexts (e.g., aquaponics, robotics, and gardens).

STEM associated with a wide range of topics/contexts for which science, technology, engineering or mathematics can be useful, including but also extending beyond aquaponics, robotics, and gardens (e.g, personal health, economic analysis, construction, food science, sustainability, global issues, and computer applications). 

STEM as activities for the main purpose of increasing student engagement.

STEM as meaningful and rigorous learning experiences with attention to solving problems, creating products and addressing real-world issues while also aligning to standards.

STEM as one project students complete during a school year.

STEM as embedded within the curriculum and including both small- and large-scale learning experiences throughout the school year.

STEM Resources

Open Educational resources

National Science Board (2015). Revisiting the STEM workforce. Alexandria, VA: National Science Foundation. Retrieved from
Siekmann, G. & Korbel, P. (2016). Defining ʻSTEMʻ skills: Review and synthesis of the literature. National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).
Hawaii P20 Education-to-Workforce Report: STEM Career Pathways instead of UHCC (2019). Hawai‘i industry sectors. Retrieved from