Introductory material - What is STEM?

On this page:

‘STEM’ stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Under the National STEM School Education Strategy 2016-2026, STEM education refers collectively to the teaching of the disciplines within its umbrella – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – and also to a cross-disciplinary approach to teaching that increases student interest in STEM related fields and improves students’ problem solving and critical analysis skills. STEM sits within a broader foundational knowledge base and the teaching of STEM is a part, albeit important, of a balanced program of learning.

The two most common ways to talk about STEM in education are:

  • Individual STEM education: Education in each of the individual STEM subject groups only (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).


  • Integrated STEM education: For example, teaching Science using an Engineering theory. The approach aims to increase student interest in STEM subjects and promote key skills such as problem-solving and creative thinking.

In this Toolkit:

  • The term STEM education covers both of these meanings: Individual STEM education and combined STEM education.
  • The term STEM skills is used to describe the skills students develop in each individual STEM subject group, and in approaches that integrate STEM subjects.