What are STEM skills?

You might know that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. But what does it mean when we talk about skills related to STEM?

What are STEM skills?

You might know that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. But what does it mean when we talk about skills related to STEM?

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.

For example, in science you learn ways to increase or reduce friction on a surface to make objects moving across that surface move faster or slower. You use technology to simulate experiments that might involve things that are too large or too small to see easily, or that are too dangerous to do in a classroom. Engineering principles are used when you design, build, and test models, like the ones needed to understand how energy is transferred. Finally, you use math skills to analyze and draw conclusions from experiments.

More specifically, below are some of the essential STEM skills you’ll want to develop and/or enhance:

Problem Solving

STEM problems require you to quickly work to make sense of problems as they are presented, and work productively to propose real and appropriate solutions.


STEM requires the ability to look at and propose solutions to a problem through multiple approaches, including ones that are highly creative or “out-of-the-box.” In STEM, mistakes and failed attempts are positive experiences, offering opportunities for deeper learning.

Inquiry Skills

STEM requires hands-on, active participation to effectively solve problems. Students are the drivers of solutions and should be asking the questions, proposing the ideas, generating and testing solutions, and making decisions based on data to understand how to refine ideas further.

Math & Science Skills

The mathematics and science skills you are learning in school are the foundation of STEM and must be applied in pursuit of solutions. The math and science used to solve problems will connect to and extend your coursework, as well as highlight connections between ideas and subject areas.

Engineering-Design Thinking

In solving STEM problems, the use of engineering-design thinking is vital. In this kind of thinking, you must identify the problem at hand, research potential solutions, build prototypes, test, redesign, test again, and iterate further as needed. Each step in the process moves you closer to creating a functional solution.

Critical Thinking

Effective STEM learning requires you to analyze information, evaluate designs, reflect on your thinking, synthesize new ideas, and propose creative solutions. All of these skills are vital to becoming an independent, critical thinker.


Big challenges are rarely solved by individuals. Working on STEM problems also involves learning to work as a productive part of a collaborative team.

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Try out our Get Into Energy / Get Into STEM crossword puzzle to see if you can identify the STEM knowledge and skills that everyone needs!

Download Printable Crossword PDF


1. Working with others to produce results as a team

2. A discipline that applies scientific principles to identify and solve problems

3. Making sense of issues and proposing explanations or answers

4. Type of skills where students are hands-on, active participants and drivers of solutions

6. Being able to take multiple, out-of-the-box approaches to problems


5. The “S” in STEM

7. Type of skills that often involve calculations, measurements, and numbers

8. Skill that involves analyzing information, evaluating designs, and synthesizing new ideas


Get Into Energy / Get Into STEM is a ground-breaking program designed to build awareness among students, parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and others about the value of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education and the excellent career opportunities available in the energy industry.

Get Into Energy / Get Into STEM is managed by the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD), a non-profit consortium of electric, natural gas, and nuclear utilities and their associations.

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