Taking STEM to a Whole New Level

From STEM to STEAM

In early 2000, careers that centered around science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) were rapidly becoming the driving force in American industry and played a critical role in the growth and strength of the U.S. economy. This drove the implementation of the STEM curriculum in schools. If it isn’t broken, why mess with it? Why add the arts? Creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking skills are very important and help students develop a creative mindset. These are important skills that adding ART to the STEM equation enhances. STEAM opens up a world of possibilities for collaborative, project-based learning. Art encourages personal expression and helps students make meaning and connections to what they’re learning. It’s the final piece to the puzzle that creates a more well-rounded student. It also opens up the minds of students who might not otherwise consider themselves “good at math or science” to consider the possibilities. STEAM supports brain science by encouraging students to utilize both the left and right sides of the brain. This is important because the left side of the brain is activated by math, science, data, etc., while the right side of the brain is where emotion, humor, imagination, and creativity live.

Why is STEAM Important

Traditional, standardized test-focused education doesn’t prepare students to face the challenges and meet the ever-changing demands of our complex, ever-changing world. Important 21st-century skills are 

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Collaborations
  • Creativity 
  • Innovation 

STEAM takes the power of the five critical disciplines and creates an environment that empowers and helps students to develop critical skills so they are better equipped to face the challenges of today and beyond. STEAM learning is project and inquiry-based so students construct meaning and gain knowledge in a variety of ways.

How to bring STEAM into your School

It’s really important to understand STEAM education. It goes beyond rote memorization and direct instruction. It’s not so much about where and when the learning takes place as it is the why and how learning is accomplished. STEAM is an interdisciplinary approach to education and as such more than one academic area is used to examine a topic, theme, question, or issue. It is a collaboration between teachers and students rather than a student “sit and get” instruction from the teacher.

Some tips to incorporate STEAM education in your school include

  • Provide comprehensive STEAM professional development for teachers to ensure understanding of the principles, practices, and implementation of STEAM education. You don’t need a designated STEAM teacher.
  • Create teams of teachers who have expertise in the five core disciplines to collaborate and plan STEAM lessons for your campus .
  • Allow time for teachers to plan and reflect on STEAM lessons.
  • Allow time in daily schedules for students to participate in hands-on learning and STEAM exploration.
  • Adjust campus expectations to allow for appropriate assessment with an emphasis on growth and learning vs. right or wrong, standardized testing.

We’d love to know how your campus incorporates STEAM. Share with us in the comments.


References

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, including Computer Science. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from ed.gov/stem

What is STEAM Education?  The definitive guide for K-12 schools. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://artsintegration.com/what-is-steam-education-in-k-12-schools/ 

Why STEAM is important to 21st Century Education. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://onlinedegrees.sandiego.edu/steam-education-in-schools/

The History and Importance of STEAM Education. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://www.steamtruck.org/blog/steam-education-history-importance

The Importance of Using Both Sides of the Brain. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from thedrum.com


Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.

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