In music notation, a stem is the vertical line drawn next to the note-head on certain notes. The stem begins at the note head and is drawn straight up or straight down, depending on whether the note is in the bottom or top half of the staff. All notes of shorter duration than a whole note use a stem, including the half note, the quarter note, and the eighth note.

On a bicycle, the stem is the piece connecting the handlebar to the steerer tube of the fork. There are two different types of stems, corresponding to the two types of headset: threaded headsets and threadless headsets.

For a threaded headset, the stem is an upside-down "L" shaped piece of metal. The downward pointing piece is inserted into the steerer tube and is held there by a wedge-shaped quill that is pulled up tight using a long bolt running the length of the stem. The other section of the stem points forward and attaches to the handlebar via some sort of a clamp. The exact angle of the stem varies between bicycles. On most road bikes, the stem will angle down; the point of attachment for the handlebar is actually below the bend in the stem. Stems for mountain bikes, however, generally angle up a fair bit.
The height of this type of stem can be easily adjusted. Simply loosen the bolt on top of it which runs into the steerer tube, and give it a tap with a hammer. This dislodges the quill inside the steerer tube. Then adjust the height, and after making sure it is centered over front wheel, retighten the bolt. The bolt should be relatively snug, but take care not to overtighten it, as this will only damage the inside of the steerer tube.

Stems for threadless headsets are a much more simple design. On this type of a headset, the steerer tube actuall protrudes above the head tube of the bike. The stem is essentially a piece of tubing with clamps at both ends. One clamp attaches to this piece of the steerer tube, the other to the handlebar. The stem is actually responsible for holding the fork in the bike. This can be a much more sturdy design, and is used on most mountain bikes. Very little changes can be made to the height of this type of stem, however. At best, one can place a few spacers between the stem and the headset, raising it slightly.

Angle and length of the stem are one of many factors that significantly influence the ride of a bike. Longer stems with a very shallow angle will put the rider further forward over the bike. This is very good for aerodynamics and hill climbing. An extreme form of this is seen on road bikes. Shorter, steeper stems, especially when coupled with a riser bar, will make for a tighter cockpit on a mountain bike, increasing mobility. This is very handy on more technical trails.

STEM is an acronym for "Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Technology". While Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Technology have all been around for a long while, the usage of the term "STEM" has only come into play in the last few years, and is generally used by those advocating for an increase in education in these subjects in the US Educational system, from primary school through university.

The "STEM" subjects have been a part of education for thousands of years, and (strangely enough) are currently taught at all levels of the United States Educational system. But it is only in the past few years that talk of "STEM" has become a thing, and I don't really know who started throwing around this term, anymore than I know who first started talking about The Feels. Because the denotation of "STEM" are different from its connotation. While Science, Technology, Engineering and Math can do many things, they can not do everything that STEMs can do.

STEMs are the secret to empowering women to throw off subsidiary positions in the workforce. STEMs are the way that minority youth, so long downtrodden, can gain self-esteem. STEMs are a way that the American middle class can be revitalize again. And STEMs are a way the American economy can shake off its doldrums, and regain control of its place in the world. I have seen, explicitly or implicitly, STEM education mentioned as a cure for all of these, and more.

Which is why, despite the fact that I do believe education in STEM fields is a good thing, and needed (and despite the fact that I myself have been employed as a mathematics teacher), I greet much STEM talk with some weariness.

I have two main problems with STEM. The first part is that so much of the reasoning behind the need for STEM is based on a narrative of questionable accuracy. There is a free-floating belief that most American students are spending their time either eating Taco Bell and playing video games, and if they do go on to study, it is something like French Poetry. Meanwhile, Chinese second graders are mastering calculus, which is why China is building aircraft carriers and stealth aircraft. The type of people who believe things like this are often the type of people who have a bad experience with a young person and thus believe that the entire American educational system is going downhill. And the attention focused on the supposed problem of America's educational decline is attention that might be better spent elsewhere: by fixing the real problems of the American economy, such as fossil fuel dependence and income inequality.

My second problem is that I don't separate "hard" subjects from "soft" subjects as much as others do, and I think that such separation is counter-productive. The same skills of literacy, analysis, critical thinking, problem solving and research that allow someone to understand American history or Chinese literature are the skills that they use to understand the "hard sciences". The attitude that many of us have encountered, of people who claim they "aren't good at math", is actually in some ways encouraged by the attitude that separates STEM subjects from other subjects: once people reify STEM subjects as an esoteric, difficult and specific field, they are less inclined to do them. The truth is, people are constantly learning about all of these things, whether they know it or not.

In conclusion, although I agree that STEM subjects are important and more focus needs to be placed on them, I am wary of the agenda of the STEM movement, and I also wonder if the generalization that these subjects needs more emphasis takes into account all the factors in students' educational development.

Stem (?), Steem (?), v. i.

To gleam.


His head bald, that shone as any glass, . . . [And] stemed as a furnace of a leed [caldron]. Chaucer.


© Webster 1913.

Stem, Steem, n.

A gleam of light; flame.



© Webster 1913.

Stem (?), n. [AS. stemn, stefn, staefn; akin to OS. stamn the stem of a ship, D. stam stem, steven stem of a ship, G. stamm stem, steven stem of a ship, Icel. stafn, stamn, stem of a ship, stofn, stomn, stem, Sw. stam a tree trunk, Dan. stamme. Cf. Staff, Stand.]


The principal body of a tree, shrub, or plant, of any kind; the main stock; the part which supports the branches or the head or top.

After they are shot up thirty feet in length, they spread a very large top, having no bough nor twig in the trunk or the stem. Sir W. Raleigh.

The lowering spring, with lavish rain, Beats down the slender stem and breaded grain. Dryden.


A little branch which connects a fruit, flower, or leaf with a main branch; a peduncle, pedicel, or petiole; as, the stem of an apple or a cherry.


The stock of a family; a race or generation of progenitors.

"All that are of noble stem."


While I do pray, learn here thy stem And true descent. Herbert.


A branch of a family.

This is a stem Of that victorious stock. Shak.

5. Naut.

A curved piece of timber to which the two sides of a ship are united at the fore end. The lower end of it is scarfed to the keel, and the bowsprit rests upon its upper end. Hence, the forward part of a vessel; the bow.


Fig.: An advanced or leading position; the lookout.

Wolsey sat at the stem more than twenty years. Fuller.


Anything resembling a stem or stalk; as, the stem of a tobacco pipe; the stem of a watch case, or that part to which the ring, by which it is suspended, is attached.

8. Bot.

That part of a plant which bears leaves, or rudiments of leaves, whether rising above ground or wholly subterranean.

9. Zool. (a)

The entire central axis of a feather.


The basal portion of the body of one of the Pennatulacea, or of a gorgonian.

10. Mus.

The short perpendicular line added to the body of a note; the tail of a crotchet, quaver, semiquaver, etc.

11. Gram.

The part of an inflected word which remains unchanged (except by euphonic variations) throughout a given inflection; theme; base.

From stem to stern Naut., from one end of the ship to the other, or through the whole length. -- Stem leaf Bot., a leaf growing from the stem of a plant, as contrasted with a basal or radical leaf.


© Webster 1913.

Stem, v. t.


To remove the stem or stems from; as, to stem cherries; to remove the stem and its appendages (ribs and veins) from; as, to stem tobacco leaves.


To ram, as clay, into a blasting hole.


© Webster 1913.

Stem, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Stemmed (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Stemming.] [Either from stem, n., or akin to stammer; cf. G. stemmen to press against.]

To oppose or cut with, or as with, the stem of a vessel; to resist, or make progress against; to stop or check the flow of, as a current.

"An argosy to stem the waves."


[They] stem the flood with their erected breasts. Denham.

Stemmed the wild torrent of a barbarous age. Pope.


© Webster 1913.

Stem, v. i.

To move forward against an obstacle, as a vessel against a current.

Stemming nightly toward the pole. Milton.


© Webster 1913.

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