STEM vs. STEAM vs. STREAM: What does it all mean?

Two young girls holding a potted flower at Care A Lot Child Care Center

STEM has been a buzz word in the early childhood and school age level for some time now, but what does it mean?  What does it look like?

What is STEM?

STEM is an educational curriculum that focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math. Instead of teaching each of these subjects separately, teachers strive to include some and or all of STEM into each lesson and or project.

Examples of STEM that you may see in classrooms are activities such as bridge building and basic computer programming.  While children are engaging in these activities since they are open ended, the opportunities they are endless!

There are two main goals that educators strive to see when they incorporate STEM in their classroom.  One being to broaden STEM literacy and participation, particularly among young women and people of color.  The second goal is to strengthen the STEM workforce by increasing the number of students who pursue a career in a related field.

girl holding a shovel at Care A Lot Child Care

What is STEAM?

STEAM includes all the elements on STEM but adds art to the mix.  STEAM projects include growing crystal gardens and creating seed necklaces.  While these activities are science-based, they also incorporate artistic expression.

What is STREAM?

STREAM adds one more layer to STEM and STEAM: Reading and writing.  Many educators see literacy as an essential part of creating a well-rounded curriculum, as it requires critical thinking as well as creativity.  STREAM projects are similar to STEM or STEAM but a teacher would included some reading materials during the activity and writing materials after for the children to write about their experiences.

girl playing at Care A Lot Child Care

There are many ways for families to included STEM activities at home.  Check out the links below to start STEM play at home today!

Magnetic Slime

Popsicle Stick Catapult

Lego Addition

Hot Ice Experiment


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