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Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)

What is STEM?

High School girl soldering at competitive event

Authentic STEM education offers all students an opportunity to engage with meaningful problems beyond the application of isolated pieces of science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning. STEM education is more than the sum of its parts, functioning as a metadiscipline that provides a way of approaching problems across contexts. In the 21st century, major societal problems do not belong to any one discipline; they must be solved through multiple approaches and perspectives. STEM provides one such approach, emphasizing a quantitative, collaborative, innovative, and logical analysis rooted in a solid understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

While STEM programs should include direct links to career pathways, they should not be considered exclusively as a jobs program, nor should they be controlled by any one disciplinary department in a school system. All students need to be able to use this mindset, whether they’re moving towards careers in fine arts, aeronautics or business management. Importantly, however, STEM education can be a unique driver of economic development. Wisconsin, and the United States generally, need more graduates who are STEM literate--prepared for the realities of today’s workforce. Jobs data suggests we are not currently meeting the needs of Wisconsin STEM employers.

For further information on STEM definitions, a recent report was conducted by DPI and the Midwest Comprehensive Center of the American Institutes of Research, titled  "From Career Pipeline to STEM Literacy: Exploring Evolving Notions of STEM." 

Contact: or see DPI STEM Leadership Team page