STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STEM schools focus their curriculum on these subjects, not individually, but integrated in every aspect of learning, because they believe it will help the students succeed better in the real world because of the hands on application of problems they will face in the real world. It is centered around problem based learning, similar to how problems are encountered in the real world. The Obama Administration has recently led a push for more schools to shift to STEM, so this is becoming more and more prominent.
STEM is integrated in all three levels of education. It is first introduced to students in elementary school in order to gain their interest and educate them on the basics of STEM topic. In middle school the STEM courses become more challenging and STEM occupations are explored by students. By high school STEM pathways become available to students and post-secondary education prep and career prep in STEM fields is widely accessible.
Overall, STEM is meant to make the student more dynamic and competitive in this new fast-paced and tech-based world. However, there is a lot of controversy on whether or not there is too much emphasis on STEM. Some believe the arts and humanities are equally as important for student success and that they are being neglected and cut in favor of the STEM curriculum. Either way, the concept of STEM has a very strong foundation, however the way it is being applied in schools may not be the most effective.