The Difference Between Stem and Steam – Your Questions Answered

Have you heard the terms STEM and STEAM being used around lately and would like to know what they mean? Maybe you want to be better informed and contribute intelligently the next time you and your friends are discussing the merits and demerits of the current education system.

The difference between STEM and STEAM is that STEM focuses mainly on the sciences while STEAM represents STEM plus the arts. These include new media, dance, drama, humanities, language arts, visual arts, music and design.

There are tools that are designed to to assist with your STEM and STEAM initiative like Robobloq and Robo Camp.

metal block robot kit for STEM education
metal block robot kit for STEM education

The Evolution of Education

It is becoming more and more apparent to those of us who take the time to observe and reflect that the traditional form of education as we know it is becoming more and more irrelevant. For starters, the traditional classroom setup is geared to only benefitting specific styles of learning.

This has led to the classification of otherwise intelligent children as failures because the teaching system is not designed for how they learn. There are 4 basic learning styles:

  1. Visual

These learn best through visual aids like pictures, diagrams, graphs, written directions and more.

  1. Auditory

These learn best when something is reinforced by sound. They would rather listen to teaching than to read. They will also often use their voices to reinforce things and will usually read something out loud to themselves.

  1. Kinesthetic

Also, know as tactile learners, they learn through experiencing or doing things. They achieve this acting out events or using their hands to touch and handle to understand things.

  1. Reading/ Writing

This type of learner prefers to learn through the written word. They are drawn to expression through writing and reading.

Video explanation: The difference between stem and steam

Through this brief description of learning styles, you will see that the traditional classroom setup is really only geared to specific learning styles and will frustrate the others.

The other big disadvantage of the traditional learning system is that all the subjects that are being taught in schools are working in isolation rather than being integrated. This is not how we learn in the real world.

In the real world, we learn in an integrated manner. We take from different facets of our knowledge base and then piece those together to come up with a specific outcome.

This realization led to the development of STEM. It was designed to bring up students who used Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths in an integrated fashion in coming up with solutions in day to day living.

This approach is better catered to them being more relevant in our modern workplaces and society in general.


What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. It was developed as a way of integrating concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math so that the student looks at things from a holistic perspective.

Click to download the article as pdf
Click to download the article as pdf

It was designed in the 1990s after the National Science Foundation recognized that a better method of teaching would be to integrate subjects instead of teaching them in isolation as this was how they occurred in the real world.

Read our article below on how we at Edustore Africa are training the next generation in South Africa:

Edusore Africa Answers about programming and coding in South Africa

This better prepares students for the ever-changing world that they are growing into.

What is STEAM

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math. It has all the components of STEM but also recognises that you need to have the creative element hence the addition of art.

It recognises when solving scientific, engineering or related problems, you will need to include the artistic side like design and innovation. STEAM develops relevant skills such as problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking, entrepreneurship skills and teamwork.

In essence, STEAM is a more whole brain approach as it engages both the left brain and the right brain and not just one side.


We hope this article has helped you better understand the main differences between STEM and STEAM. IF you have any questions kindly leave a comment below.

At Edustore Africa, we provide STEM and STEAM solutions for you. If you are an educator and would like to implement these is your school, click here and learn more about our service offering.

3 thoughts on “The Difference Between Stem and Steam – Your Questions Answered”

  1. It’s a great post explaining clearly what’s a difference between STEM and STEAM.
    It makes sense that put the liberal arts into the STEM, because in my opinion if people want to thoroughly solve problems, technology alone is not enough, you should know the background, culture, and humanities behind the problems.

  2. Very interesting article and I agree that the education should be more geared at the stem approach of integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math. I have to commend you on commenting that not people learn the same way.

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