Maybe you have heard of STEM learning before, but STEAM education is where it’s at. STEAM is an approach to learning that utilizes Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math to encourage student investigation, discussion, and critical thinking. STEAM approaches STEM subjects creatively and makes them real-world-relevant to all students, not just those already interested in science and math-based subjects. The goal of STEAM-based teaching is to help students take more thoughtful risks, engage in observational learning, engage in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. STEAM removes limitations and replaces them with wonder, critique, inquiry, and innovation. By incorporating arts and sciences into play, we are helping to form the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century.
The logic behind STEAM-based learning is simple: future prosperity lies in a workforce that is well-versed in rising job markets such as science, technology, engineering, and math. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, employment in STEM occupations is projected to grow by 8.9% from 2014 to 2024, compared to 6.4% for non-STEM occupations. Therefore, increasing learning in these fields will help to guarantee a better future for our children. By incorporating arts and sciences into play, we are helping to form the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century.
It helps students ask questions, connect the dots, problem solve, think creatively, and be innovative.
Incorporating the arts into sciences is beneficial for many reasons. Here are a few:
- It encourages confidence in their ideas – there are no wrong answers in art!
- It focuses on the process which helps to drive innovation
- It teaches observation, of people and surroundings
- It boosts spatial awareness
- It improves mathematical concepts such as geometry
How Do STEAM Experiences Work?
Many schools are beginning to implement STEM and STEAM learning into the classroom, but there is much more we can do with our children outside of school to help encourage learning in the form of play. True STEAM experiences involve one of the traditional STEM pillar subjects and the arts to be taught and assessed together. STEAM-based projects look at problems from many angles, test out different ideas, and decide on a solution. They teach kids to make connections between the subjects they are studying rather than exploring them each in isolation. These kinds of activities could go in many different directions; the key is that it must cross the curriculum and encourage critical thinking skills in a meaningful way.
STEAM projects tend to make STEM subjects more exciting and relevant for the artistically inclined. There is a belief that STEAM will encourage more kids, and especially more girls, to become more interested in sciences, technology, engineering, and math.
Examples of STEAM-Based Activities