The Integrative STEM approach emphasizes the connections among the STEM areas and their application. This approach empowers educators to go beyond teaching isolated science facts to helping students connect their developing scientific knowledge to the world around them. Integrative STEM learning experiences engage students’ personal interest in learning by providing real-world context to otherwise abstract science concepts and deepens their understanding of science.
The Next Generation Science Standards and Integrative STEM Education
The most recent science education standards —the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)—set the stage for integrative STEM instruction. The NGSS call for educators to intentionally integrate the content and practices of mathematics and technology/engineering education with the content and practices of science education.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) outline expectations for mathematics and English language arts (ELA) as well as for literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. NGSS developers worked to ensure alignment and consistency with Common Core State Standards for ELA/literacy and mathematics and to identify the connections between these subjects. Through connections with CCSS for ELA/Literacy (CCSS-ELA) and CCSS for Mathematics (CCSS-M), the NGSS unite science with ELA and mathematics, giving educators tools to help students develop the skills in mathematical computation and communication they need for science literacy.
While STEM integration provides opportunities for students to develop deeper science content knowledge, it also presents challenges for educators. Fortunately, educators can take advantage of the best practices established by the NGSS—independent of state adoption of the standards—to help students understand science content, and to apply their understanding using problem-, and project-based tasks that reflect real-world situations. This gets students to to put their knowledge into practical use, making them more interested and motivated learners.
Last Updated 1/4/2017