What Are STEM Skills?

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.

If you already have aptitude for science and math, developing and improving STEM skills will come naturally. The projects and academic subjects that you will take will strengthen and polish your skills.

Although not everybody can or wants to pursue a STEM-related career, everybody has the potential to develop some level of STEM skills with proper training. This is especially true for young people who are still very malleable in terms of their interest and sense of career direction.

What are STEM skills?

STEM skills are the necessary practical competencies that you need to apply with reliable results in order to be successful in your pursuit of a science-related career. These include both technical and social skills, and we’ll explore six of them in more detail below.

STEM students are sometimes stereotyped nerds who are very intelligent and focused in science but socially awkward. However, this often isn’t the case. Among the skills that you should develop while taking the STEM curriculum include social skills.

Some of the soft social skills that you need to develop and improve include good communication and empathy. Working collaboratively on projects will help.

What are the six skills that STEM focuses on developing?

Among the many STEM skills that you need to succeed are six fundamental ones. These skills are:

  1. Problem-solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. Curiosity
  5. Logical-mathematical skills
  6. Engineering-design skills

Pursuing a career in STEM necessitates the life-long application of the skills you’ll develop in your formative years. If you have a good foundation in STEM skills, it’s that much easier to overcome problems and challenges that will inevitably come your way.

1. Problem-solving skills

Many of the challenges you’ll face in STEM fields are technical problems that require an understanding of scientific and mathematical concepts in order to solve them. It entails the careful analysis of the various factors involved and applying scientific know-how. You must apply the scientific method in problem-solving.

2. Critical thinking

Great scientific breakthroughs are not possible without the application of critical thinking. This is the skill of evaluating whether data or information is reliable. Even if an idea or concept is presented by a renowned expert, it still must be examined based on its merits and not be influenced by the prestige or authority of the proponent.

This is how long-held scientific ideas are improved or even rejected. Developing critical thinking skills will reduce the probability of personal biases. It’s also about self-examination of your own ideas, allowing you to reflect on information from various perspectives.

3. Creativity

Creativity is the ability to innovate and be able to see new ways of doing things. It does not only refer to aesthetics, but also more practical things. Creativity allows you to improve systems and make them more efficient and reliable. It leads to alternative pathways and inventions. Designing an experiment, for instance, requires creativity.

4. Curiosity

Inquisitiveness or scientific curiosity is innate among children - and it’s also a crucial aspect of scientific attitude and aptitude. You can further develop your curiosity skills simply by learning how to ask the right questions. The right questions are likely to lead you to the right answers. However, you will need to have all the relevant background knowledge before you can ask the right questions. This is the essence of research.

5. Logical-mathematical skills

Science works based on the assumption that phenomena and the universe itself are comprehensible and measurable on some level. That means it’s possible to distill natural laws into mathematical expressions.

Case in point: the Newtonian law of gravity. The mathematical equations that represent natural laws are only valid if they can be empirically supported by measurable data. The logical-mathematical skills refer to the ability to make reasonable connections and predictions about natural phenomena based on quantifiable data.

6. Engineering-design skills

STEM education is also about designing and building things. From computer programs to mechanical or structural designs, you’ll need engineering-design skills to help you understand the mathematical and scientific foundations of designs. STEM education provides the opportunity to design digital and mechanical systems that you can manipulate or experiment with.

Why are STEM skills important?

Even if you’re not planning to be a scientist or an engineer, STEM skills will come handy in many situations, including both personal and professional. For example, all jobs require problem-solving skills at varying levels. You can be more adaptable and efficient in many situations if you have STEM skills.

How to integrate and implement STEM education in schools

STEM education is a specialized curriculum in many schools and countries within the basic education system, but it’s also possible to integrate STEM education in the normal general curriculum.

Individual teachers can integrate STEM education into whatever subjects you are teaching, regardless of grade. For example, an English language teacher may include science fiction among their reading materials, while a history teacher might devote time to discussing the history of science.

A school that intends to promote STEM education should allocate budget and resources to support STEM education. For example, the library should contain the most updated books, journals, and other resources that are focused on science and engineering. There should be labs and spaces for hands-on learning, too. Teachers may also want to work on collaborative projects that include the application of scientific principles and concepts across disciplines.


Developing and improving STEM skills will go a long way to helping students get prepared for the challenges of the modern world, and you don’t necessarily have to pursue a career in science or engineering to develop important STEM skills. The value of these skills extends beyond science, and are also crucial in other careers and in personal life.

Are you an educator looking for STEAM resources for middle school, high school or university? Take a look at Arduino Education kits and how they can support your hands-on STEAM lessons.