Toward the end of the previous century, there was a new movement in the world of education focused on integrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics: STEM. It was determined that twenty-first century workers required skills and more in-depth knowledge of math and science.
Today’s graduates need the ability to integrate and apply knowledge of STEM topics to determine solutions to challenges that face our nation.
Today’s graduates need the ability to integrate and apply knowledge of STEM topics to determine solutions to challenges that face our nation. After studying STEM, children develop a higher level of critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and innovation skills than they would have acquired had they been taught only mathematics and science – as has historically been done in our nation’s schools.
A Good STEM Program
A good STEM program should have content that is motivating, engaging, and based in real world situations. In a STEM program, students learn to integrate and apply meaningful and important mathematics and science content, as well as solve engineering challenges using an engineering design process. Most important, throughout the program, students have the freedom to think critically, creatively, and innovatively.
STEM Gets STEAM
Recently, however, there has been a lot talk of adding arts to STEM programs, turning it into “STEAM.” The proponents argue that STEM lessons naturally involve art in product design, language arts in communication, and history and social studies for when students are setting a context to the engineering challenges. Students of STEM are drawing and creating designs and representing their ideas in artistic formats all the time. So including art in STEM is a natural progression.
Like math and science, art can also be treated as an applied subject. STEM can be easily changed to STEAM when students apply design to their finished products: using computer graphics, creating logos, and improving the appearance of industrial designs. Students can also use the “A” for role playing, performance arts, and persuasive writing when communicating, displaying, and demonstrating their findings.
Our students can go on to be doctors, engineers, or scientists, but they will always need to come up with creative solutions. The “A” in “STEAM” will assist them in doing so. Art and design is key in transforming the future of our students and helping America maintain and sustain its position as an innovator in the global community.