Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (2023)

K–12 STEM education encompasses the processes of critical thinking, analysis, and collaboration in which students integrate the processes and concepts in real world contexts of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, fostering the development of STEM skills and competencies for college, career, and life.

The STEAM SymposiumScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (1) began incorporating Art into what was previously called the STEM Symposium with the 2017 California STEAM Symposium.

E-mail lists: If you would like to receive STEM Education updates via e-mail notification about resources, workshops, institutes, funding opportunities, contests, and legislation related to STEM Education, subscribe to the Lyris e-mail list by sending a "blank" message to

Defining STEM and STEAM

STEM Education in California

To be successful, California’s efforts to improve schools and raise student achievement must include advancing our students’ understanding of STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Through STEM education, students learn to become problem solvers, innovators, creators, and collaborators and go on to fill the critical pipeline of engineers, scientists, and innovators so essential to the future of California and the nation.

STEM education inspires and prepares all of its students to seize the opportunities of the global society through innovation, inquiry, collaboration, and creative problem solving.

California also has education programs that incorporate science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM). For more information about STEAM education programs in California, please contact the following Divisions of the California Department of Education listed below:

Expanded Learning Division

STEM Disciplines

The Four STEM Disciplines Described

(Video) STEM explains the world! Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics

Science is the study of the natural world, including the laws of nature associated with physics, chemistry, and biology and the treatment or application of facts, principles, concepts, and conventions associated with these disciplines. Science is both a body of knowledge that has been accumulated over time and a process—scientific inquiry—that generates new knowledge. Knowledge from science informs the engineering design process. (NGSS for California Public Schools, K–12)

Technology, while not a discipline in the strictest sense, comprises the entire system of people and organizations, knowledge, processes, and devices that go into creating and operating technological artifacts, as well as the artifacts themselves. Throughout history, humans have created technology to satisfy their wants and needs. Much of modern technology is a product of science and engineering, and technological tools are used in both fields.

Engineering is both a body of knowledge—about the design and creation of human-made products—and a process for solving problems. This process is design under constraint. One constraint in engineering design is the laws of nature, or science. Other constraints include time, money, available materials, ergonomics, environmental regulations, manufacturability, and reparability. Engineering utilizes concepts from science and mathematics as well as technological tools.(Engineering Design in the NGSSScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (2)(PDF))

Mathematics is the study of patterns and relationships among quantities, numbers, and space. Unlike in science, where empirical evidence is sought to warrant or overthrow claims, claims in mathematics are warranted through logical arguments based on foundational assumptions. The local arguments themselves are part of mathematics along with the claims. As in science, knowledge in mathematics continues to grow, but unlike in science, knowledge in mathematics is not overturned, unless the foundational assumptions are transformed. Specific conceptual categories of K–12 mathematics include numbers and arithmetic, algebra, functions, geometry, and statistics and probability. Mathematics is used in science, engineering, and technology. (California Common Core State Standards (PDF))

Source: Adapted from the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, 2009.

Students learn not only in the classroom but also in the real world, and the importance of expanded, informal, and K–12 regular school day learning integration has been emphasized recently by the 2011 convening of the Committee on Integrated STEM Education by the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council (NRC), and the NRC convening, STEM is Everywhere. The most effective STEM education takes place where expanded, informal learning, and K–12 regular day instruction are integrated and the unique potential of each of these environments is fully leveraged for high-quality STEM education, often referred to as STEM ecosystems. (Change the Equation, 2012).

Computer Science

Computer Science (CS) Education Initiatives at the California Department of Education (CDE)

Recognizing the increasing importance of computer science education in California, former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson was tasked with supporting two efforts to establish this content area in California. Torlakson convened an advisory committee to develop new state computer science content standards on September 25, 2017. The second initiative began in response to California Education Code Section 53313Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (3), which specifies that the Superintendent shall develop a computer science strategic implementation plan for submission to the Legislature, if the plan is adopted by the State Board of Education, on or before July 15, 2019. The implementation of computer science education, throughout kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, would allow for pupils to build their computational and critical thinking skills, enhance technological development, and prepare them for the 21st century.

CDE Programs and Initiatives

Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan
Information and resources related to the Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan.

California Computer Science Education Standards
Information on current computer science education resources, initiatives, and standards.

California Career Technical Education: Information and Communication Technologies (PDF)
The Career Technical Education (CTE) Model Curriculum Standards have expanded to include the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector. Essential skills for those within the ICT sector, such as project management and effective communication, are described here.

(Video) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Overview | Career Cluster / Industry Video Series

Digital Literacy: The Model School Library Standards for California Public Schools (PDF) provides standards for libraries across California public institutions regarding the accessibility and usage of print and digital resources for students.

CDE for CS Newsletter: To subscribe to this quarterly newsletter, send a blank email to


Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools (ACCESS)Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (4)
ACCESS is a statewide network of computer scientists, K-12 teachers, professors from community colleges through universities, educational policy advocates, and related industry professionals who advocate for high-quality K-12 computer science education in California to ensure that it is accessible to all students.

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (5)
Regarded as the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, the Association for Computing Machinery provides resources that aim to advance computing as both a science and profession.

Code.orgScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (6) is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing access to and equity within computer science education for women and underrepresented communities. The website provides programming courses for grades K-12, resources for the Hour of Code, and advocacy materials.

Computer Science Education WeekScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (7)
Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) is an annual program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to participate in computer science.

Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA)Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (8)
The CSTA aims to empower, engage, and advocate for K-12 computer science educators worldwide. The CSTA has developed a core set of learning objectives designed to provide the foundation for a complete computer science curriculum at the K-12 implementation level.

CSPdWeekScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (9)
Computer Science Professional Development Week (CSPdWeek) makes high-quality professional development available for every teacher and counselor, regardless of where they work, what program they teach, or their district’s ability to fund their development.

CS UnpluggedScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (10)
CS Unplugged is a collection of free teaching tools for educators that teaches computer science through engaging games, puzzles, and activities.

K-12 Computer Science FrameworkScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (11)
Developed by organizations including, the CSTA, and the Association for Computing Machinery, the K-12 Computer Science Framework is designed to guide computer science education toward accessibility and participation for all students.

National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT)Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (12)
The NCWIT is a non-profit community that aims to increase the meaningful participation of all women in the computing sector, particularly in terms of technological innovation and development. The NCWIT provides valuable resources for educators to utilize in diverse classrooms.

(Video) Importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education

STEM Resources

California Department of Education Resources

Assessment – California Assessment of Student Performance and ProgressScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (13)
The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress System (CAASPP) is a resource for educators to access test administration systems, training resources and materials, the latest CAASPP news, and important dates regarding administering the CAASPP tests.

Career Technical Education
A program of study that involves a multiyear sequence of courses that integrates core academic knowledge with technical and occupational knowledge to provide students with a pathway to postsecondary education and careers.

Education Technology
Provides assistance to schools and districts in integrating technology with teaching and learning.

Engaging Girls in STEM
Resources to support girls in STEM fields.

Engineering and Architecture (PDF)
Foundational information about the engineering and architecture sector pathways and occupations for students in California.

Environmental Education
Information on current environmental education resources, special events, and grant opportunities.

Resources and information for enhancing the content knowledge and teaching skills of classroom teachers and links to foundational documents which guide California's mathematics instruction.

Resources and information for enhancing the content knowledge and teaching skills of classroom teachers and links to foundational documents which guide California's science instruction.

  • California Science Framework
    The Science Framework for California Public Schools is the blueprint for reform of the science curriculum, instruction, professional preparation and development, and instructional materials in California.

Statewide Partner Resources

CA 4 NGSS ToolkitScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (14)
The California Alliance for Next Generation Science Standards facilitates collaboration among education, business, government, and community leaders to support effective and timely implementation of CA NGSS throughout California.

(Video) Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Careers | Career Cluster / Industry Video Series

California Mathematics CouncilScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (15)
The California Mathematics Council (CMC) is an organization that believes all students have the capacity to become mathematically competent and confident when provided a rigorous and challenging mathematical program supported by high expectations.

California Science Teachers AssociationScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (16)
The California Science Teachers Association's (CSTA) mission is to promote high quality science education.

California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) NGSS ResourcesScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (17)
The CSTA has developed a collection of resources and information for California science educators regarding the implementation of the state’s new science standards.

California State University and Better Together NGSS ResourcesScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (18) (PDF)
The California State University collaborated with the Better Together California Teachers’ Summit to create this very comprehensive list of resources for teachers and schools who are implementing the California State Standards and Frameworks.

The California STEM NetworkScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (19) is a Project of Children Now.
The STEM Network web pageScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (20) contains links to Regional California STEM Networks.

Contra County Office of Education STEAM InitiativeScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (21)
The Contra Costa Office of Education provides resources and a newsletter for STEAM.

National Resources

National Science and Technology CouncilScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (22)
This Council was established by Executive OrderScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (23)(PDF) on November 23, 1993 and is a cabinet-level council of advisers to the President on science and technology.

STEM Teaching ToolsScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (24)
The STEM Teaching Tools initiative is funded through federal research grants from the National Science Foundation.


Innovate: A Blueprint for STEM Education (PDF; 2014)
A blueprint for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in California public education produced in 2014 by the STEM Task Force for Superintendent Tom Torlakson.

The Condition of STEMScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (25) (PDF; 2017)
The report will show achievement levels for students in each of the four areas of STEM on a national level.

(Video) College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Disparities in STEM Employment by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: American Community Survey ReportsScience, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (26) (PDF; 2013)
This report details the historical demographic composition of STEM occupations, followed by a detailed examination of current STEM employment by age and sex, presence of children in the household, and race and Hispanic origin based on the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS).


How to do well in STEM classes? ›

Experiment with self-testing and spaced repetition of various topics over multiple days. Practice exactly what you'll be asked to do. Many courses will offer practice questions with their solutions; however, you need to work out the answers to practice problems before you review the solutions.

What skills do you need for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics? ›

What are STEM skills?
  • When we talk about STEM skills, we're talking about the individual skills needed to do science, mathematics, and engineering, and those needed to use technology effectively. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Inquiry Skills. ...
  • Math & Science Skills. ...
  • Engineering-Design Thinking. ...
  • Critical Thinking. ...
  • Collaboration.

What is the hardest strand? ›

STEM is harder in many ways. STEM requires more rigor and focus. There isn't a “subjective, emotional” part of any of it other than the starting point for being “objective and rational”. And there's a ton of the latter.

What are the 3 elements of stem education? ›

STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) comes to life for children through problem solving. These subject areas are interwoven in everyday life, and they serve as vehicles for the direct application of creativity and innovation skills.

What do you do in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics? ›

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workers do scientific research in laboratories or the field. Others plan or design products and systems. Or, you might support scientists, mathematicians, or engineers as they do their work.

What is the most common problem of STEM students? ›

Fear of failing and not having the right answer is a common problem of STEM students. Especially if your class is their first STEM experience. In most other courses, students are expected to have the “right” answer.

What is the hardest STEM course? ›

Computer science is considered one of the hardest STEM majors because it requires a deep understanding of programming languages, algorithms, and data structures, as well as a strong math and logical reasoning aptitude.

Is stem majors hard? ›

STEM majors can be challenging, but their rigor shouldn't stop you from pursuing one. Expect to take a variety of foundational science, math and computer courses. In your program, you'll be asked to apply critical thinking, data analysis and complex problem-solving skills to a variety of projects and experiments.

What makes a successful STEM student? ›

Perspective + Problem Solving

Without a sense of how your work in a STEM job will translate in the real world, you cannot put your soft skills to real use. Being able to apply ideas to a range of situations and effectively analyze results shows a big-picture approach to your vocation.

What do you learn in STEM class? ›

STEM is an educational curriculum that focuses heavily on the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In traditional education, these subjects are siloed into an independent curriculum for each.

What does STEM teach students? ›

These are the kinds of skills that students develop in science, technology, engineering, and math, including computer science—disciplines collectively known as STEM/CS.

Which is the hardest degree to pass? ›

What are the hardest degrees in the world? Ranked by Experts
  • Chartered Accountancy.
  • Astrophysics.
  • Quantum Mechanics.
  • Law.
  • Aerospace/ Aeronautical Studies, Engineering.
  • Biomedical Studies, Neurosciences, Biochemistry.
  • Nursing.
  • Dentistry, Medicine.
Dec 16, 2022

What is the number 1 hardest course? ›

List of Toughest Courses in the World
  • Quantum Mechanics.
  • Statistics.
  • Journalism.
  • Nursing.
  • Finance.
  • Philosophy.
  • Fine Arts.
  • Foreign Language.
Feb 24, 2022

What is the top 5 hardest course in college? ›

What are the hardest degree subjects?
  • Aerospace Engineering. Aerospace Engineers study the design, manufacturing and testing of aircrafts. ...
  • Architecture. Architecture is one of those degrees that we wish was easy. ...
  • Pharmacy. ...
  • Psychology. ...
  • Statistics. ...
  • Nursing. ...
  • Physics. ...
  • Astrophysics.

What are two careers that fall under science, technology, engineering, and mathematics? ›

Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • Aerospace Engineers.
  • Architectural and Engineering Managers.
  • Automotive Engineers.
  • Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers.
  • Biofuels/Biodiesel Technology and Product Development Managers.

How important is mathematics in science and technology? ›

The areas like advanced semi-conductor devices, bio-technology, digital image technology, Nano-technology, artificial satellites, and rockets all are based on mathematical concepts. The recent success of NASA's Mars Rover is also based on mathematics.

How much math is in engineering technology? ›

As an engineering major, you will almost certainly need to complete a sequence of calculus classes. Calculus I and II are essential. Beyond these calculus courses, either Calculus III or a course in multivariate or multivariable calculus is a common part of the curriculum.

Why is STEM so hard in college? ›

Some reasons are: STEM faculty are among the toughest graders, even if they do not teach the classes that have the most demanding workloads. Grade inflation is less prevalent in the STEM majors than in any other majors on campus. Grading on a curve is more common in STEM classes than in non-STEM classes.

Why do STEM students drop out? ›

Many people are striving to understand the cause for the attrition, particularly for students of color and women. According to a White House report (PDF, 1.1MB), it seems that students leave STEM because of the uninviting atmosphere, difficult weed-out classes, and STEM courses that do not show their relevancy.

What percentage of students go into STEM? ›

Of the 1.8 million bachelor's degrees awarded in 2015–16, about 331,000 (18 percent) were in STEM fields. The percentage of bachelor's degrees awarded that were in STEM fields varied by race/ethnicity.

What are the 4 C's in STEM? ›

They became known as the “Four Cs” — critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. STEM is a natural extension of these skills, as it embraces each as an essential part of the learning process.

What are the 5 C's of STEM education? ›

Instead of teaching the same lesson plan to an entire class, educators should focus on the 5 Cs—collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical and computational thinking—to foster greater learning.

What are the 5 C's STEM? ›

The Five C's include critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration, and citizenship skills. Through application of these concepts across academic disciplines, students will be equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed post-graduation.

What is the least stressful STEM degree? ›

According to the annual National Survey of Student Engagement, software engineering, computer science and astronomy majors enjoy the least stressful college experience, and spend the most time relaxing and socializing, including hanging out with friends, playing video games and going online.

What is the easiest college major? ›

Business Administration

On average, bachelor of business administration majors spend 42 hours studying for both the core courses and electives. Based on the average GPA, this could be the easiest bachelor degree to get.

Does STEM require a lot of math? ›

STEM is extra heavy on science and math.

Unfortunately, being able to quickly master these two subjects is an integral part of doing well in STEM. Science and math are particularly important in STEM because technology and engineering are dependant on them.

What is a good GPA for a STEM major? ›

The average cumulative GPA of all undergraduate students on campus as of Fall 2021 is 3.33. Students in the above-listed STEM departments have a mean GPA of 3.39; higher than the campus-wide average.

How many people drop out of STEM? ›

For various reasons, a significant proportion of students who initially intend to study STEM fields abandon them several years later. A recent study found that a total of 56 percent of postsecondary students who declared STEM majors in their freshman year left these fields over the next 6 years (Chen 2009).

Can I be a STEM major if I'm bad at math? ›

You will not be able to power through a stem major without having good problem solving, study, and foundational math skills.

How can I improve my STEM skills? ›

Ways to develop your STEM skills
  1. Join a STEM-focused club or program in your school or community. ...
  2. Find a local organization or committee focused on solving a problem in your area, and ask to be a member. ...
  3. Ask questions! ...
  4. Focus on the impacts of each area of STEM in your day-to-day life.

How do I prepare myself for STEM? ›

Work hard in your math classes. You should aim to be in calculus by your senior year, or joint-enrolled at a college near your home. Take extra science classes. Many STEM degrees require multiple areas of science foundation, and seeing it in high school will really help when taking the faster college-level classes.

What is the most important skills for STEM students? ›

STEM skills include problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity and logic skills. Just like other skills, they can be developed and improved with study and practice. Some STEM skills are considered soft skills, while others can be classified as hard skills. Both are necessary to be successful in STEM.

Why is STEM so much harder? ›

Some reasons are: STEM faculty are among the toughest graders, even if they do not teach the classes that have the most demanding workloads. Grade inflation is less prevalent in the STEM majors than in any other majors on campus. Grading on a curve is more common in STEM classes than in non-STEM classes.

What are the four core skills of STEM? ›

Four of the most important abilities in STEM are critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication, also known as the four Cs.

Are STEM classes worth it? ›

Is a STEM degree worth it? For many people, the answer is yes. Here are just some of the benefits of STEM career: Increased Salary – People employed in STEM occupations earn over double the median income according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (USBLS).

What qualities should a STEM student have? ›

Through STEM, students develop key skills including:
  • problem solving.
  • creativity.
  • critical analysis.
  • teamwork.
  • independent thinking.
  • initiative.
  • communication.
  • digital literacy.

What is the personality of STEM students? ›

Highlights. Personality traits relate to both STEM preferences and STEM specialization. Openness and Agreeableness are the best predictors of STEM preferences. Extraversion is the strongest predictor of actual choice for STEM.

Who benefits from STEM education? ›

Promotes Equality in Education

STEM is an excellent subject for promoting equality in the classroom since all kids can participate in lessons and activities. Introducing STEM to younger students can help give young girls and kids of color the hands-on learning experience and opportunities to explore STEM subjects.

What is the best age to learn STEM? ›

Similarly, parents and educators should not wait until students turn four or five years old before beginning to provide STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. The best time to begin is when children are at their most active learning stage – from ages one to three years.

How many hours do STEM students study? ›

How much time should you be studying per week? Research suggests that students should spend approximately 2-3 hours, per credit hour, studying in order to be successful in their courses. STEM classes often require 3-4 hours, per credit hour, of studying to be successful. Think about how you normally study.

How long does it take to learn STEM? ›

Some typical timeframes include: Certificate programs: ~1 Year. Associate degree: ~2 Years. Bachelor's degree: ~4 Years.


1. Applying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics at the Bureau
(FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation)
(ONLINE KLASRUM by Titser Kayee)
3. Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics: Olivia Heisner
(Virginia Department of Education)
4. Career Clusters - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
5. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Careers
(Wisconsin Technical Colleges)
6. STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Explorations in the Early Childhood Classroom
(Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski)


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