Integrated STEM in practice: Learning from Montessori philosophies and practices

Illana C. Livstrom, Alaina H. Szostkowski, Gillian H. Roehrig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In theory, STEM (interdisciplinary science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is cross‐disciplinary and situated in real‐world problem‐solving contexts. In practice, STEM disciplines are often implemented separately using contrived contexts. This paper examines theoretical and empirical aspects of Montessori middle school science in the United States, and its alignment with the conceptual framework of integrated STEM. We selected Montessori adolescent environments because the Montessori philosophy involves interdisciplinary application contextualized in purposeful work and learning. Our research sought to investigate how Montessori middle schools have designed their science programs, and to situate these findings within the current landscape of STEM education and reform‐based science. Based on the results of our survey of 96 U.S. Montessori middle schools, we argue Montessori offers an integrated educational approach that meaningfully situates academic disciplines to mirror local and global challenges, well supported by theory and literature on STEM and situated learning theories. We assert that integrated STEM happens organically in many Montessori middle schools, and takes place through authentic work in communities of practice. Our research communicates the value of looking outside traditional school settings to examine alternative formal education spaces, like Montessori classrooms where integrated STEM happens organically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-202
Number of pages13
JournalSchool Science and Mathematics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 School Science and Mathematics Association.


  • Montessori
  • STEM education
  • adolescent education
  • interdisciplinary
  • science education
  • situated learning theory


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