Is it Science or Engineering?

Do you get confused about the difference between science and engineering? You're not alone. This blog uses resources from the National Research Council's 2013 publication, "A Framework for K-12 Science Education" to help you differentiate the S and E in STEM. I rely heavily on the contents of chapter 7, which I'd recommend if you want to learn more. It's free to read full-text or download at the link above. 

The Framework indicates...

"Science asks:

  • What exists and what happens?
  • Why does it happen?
  • How does one know?

Engineering asks:

  • What can be done to address a particular human need or want?
  • How can the need be better specified?
  • What tools and technologies are available, or could be developed, for addressing this need?

Both science and engineering ask:

  • How does one communicate about phenomena, evidence, explanations, and design solutions?"

In other words, if you're doing an activity to solve a problem, that's engineering. If you're doing something to figure out what happens and why, that's science. If you think it's really hard to do one without the other, you're probably engaged in an interdisciplinary, STEM activity.