How STEM Academy Teachers Conceptualize and Implement STEM Education
STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education has been gaining increasing nationwide attention. While the STEM movement has ambitious goals for k-12 education, a lack of shared understanding exists of what STEM is as well as how to implement STEM in the elementary classroom. This study investigates how seven elementary teachers in three STEM academy schools conceptualize and implement STEM in their classrooms. Teacher interviews were conducted. The findings reveal that the majority of teachers believe that STEM education involves integrating STEM subject areas. STEM activities consisted of student-led research and reading activities on STEM topics. Two teachers described STEM as involving “hands-on” science activities. Teachers at each STEM academy school conceptualized and implemented STEM differently. How STEM was implemented at each school was based on how teachers interpreted STEM and the resources they had access to. The STEM coaches played a central role in supporting the elementary teachers to plan and implement lessons. Teachers relied on them for ideas to plan and teach STEM lessons. The results of this study indicate that as more schools embrace the STEM movement, a unified understanding and resources are needed to support teachers.