To define STEAM, we must first know what the acronym stands for. STEAM education is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math. They are a group of subjects that are all entwined with one another and cross-pollinate for healthier industries and sectors.
STEAM gives teachers the tools to employ project-based learning to encourage students and children to form collaborative methods and understandings of the five fields of knowledge. Using STEAM uses both sides of the brain. Rather than creating a barrier between the two as was done in traditional education, it aims to bring out the artist within the engineer, the mathematician inside the musician, and the scientist within the designer.
What subjects are included in STEAM?
- Science: Includes Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
- Technology: This incorporates all Information Technology and a range of electronics and other gadgets abroad.
- Engineering: From construction to vehicle manufacturing, engineering is everywhere.
- The Arts: Important for literacy, creative thinking, and unique problem-solving.
- Math: Math is everywhere and used by us every day.
STEM vs. STEAM
We have established what STEAM stands for, so we must look at STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The fact that STEM missed out on the Arts was raised over the years since its introduction by teachers, employers, and parents alike. The absence of creativity that the Arts bring to the program was felt in industries. Because as essential as STEM subjects are, they do not exist in a vacuum, and many disciplines cross over.
A frequently asked question is, “why are the arts important in STEM?” The answer is that the inclusion of the Arts into STEAM is important as it is often overlooked and overshadowed by its counterparts. The initial omission in STEM in the first place speaks volumes about this. How many use logos, concept art, 3D modeling, and creative writing to get their messages and ideas across when we consider all the technology, engineering, science, and information of companies and industries? The answer is all of them. And behind all these processes is a creative mind at work; unless these creative minds are fostered and nurtured, everyone else loses out.
Without incorporating the Arts into the wider field, many children’s full creative potentials often go unlocked and unused. And the heightened cross-disciplined nature of STEAM vs. STEM is advantageous as different perspectives and how people view problems through different lenses are often instrumental in fac
The main objective of implementing the Arts into STEAM is to take advantage of its standards process, where the emphasis is placed on the following:
- Convey meaning
- Criteria application
- Personal experiences
When did STEM become STEAM?
It was in 2006 when researcher, Georgette Yakman, realized the benefit of turning STEM into STEAM as the creativity and innovation the Arts bring to STEM are invaluable. So she did just that, and STEAM has been full steam ahead since!
Why is STEAM Important?
STEAM is important because it prepares students for real-life opportunities that will help them grow and adapt in later life. Rather than having a barrier between subjects and disciplines, the fluidity STEAM education offers is invaluable life lessons to young students and gives them a better appreciation of their symbiotic relationship.
STEAM was created with an end goal in sight – employment and opportunities. Because what good is education if it makes children ill-equipped for when they reach the stage of starting a career? STEAM aims to bridge this gap and provide students with the skill set to help them get the jobs they want and make for an efficient and cohesive workforce where everybody wins!
As technology replaces more repetitive task-based work, employers seek more well-rounded candidates that fit more fluid-based roles. So, the main objective of STEAM-based education is more important than ever, where the end goal is equipping children with multiple skillsets and making them comfortable in various arenas.
The Arts are not just beneficial for STEM, but STEM is advantageous to the Arts too. Think of all the creative outlets that rely on technology, such as photography, graphic design, music production, etc.; training creative students to become more literate in the tech sector can boost it as they can solve problems in this area.
The STEAM Educational Model
Using the STEAM model of education is both exciting and rewarding. However, it can also be detrimental without understanding how STEAM should be implemented and observed. It is important not to fall down the same pitfalls as its predecessor, STEM. Therefore it is essential to follow some core components and maintain standards to get the most out of STEAM.
- Due to its integrated approach, the standards, assessments, lesson plans, and implementation must have an intentional connection.
- A STEAM-based lesson or project must have at least two standards from Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math. They must also be assessed through each other.
- The STEAM learning model’s core emphasizes process, inquiry, and collaboration – this approach must be observed.
- Ensuring the application and initiative of the Arts is key for a successful STEAM-based project or lesson.
Regardless of what you teach, there is a basic six-step approach to teaching a STEAM-based lesson. By using the Arts standards framework to view the content created, you can ensure a reliable and consistent process and evaluation for your students.
Use this handy process as a lesson guide and plan for your STEAM classes while implementing the STEAM process. Let’s have a look at each step.
Firstly, it’s time to choose a question to answer or a problem to solve. Remember, it’s imperative to have a clear spotlight on how the chosen question or concern directly relates to the core STEM subjects and how it can be implemented through the Arts standards.
During this second phase, identifying the factors feeding into the problem or hindering the answer is a question. As observations are made on why the problem persists, you will begin to feel the benefits of cross-disciplinary working – as skills, experiences, and knowledge from other subjects will be used.
During the discovery step, research and intentional teaching are key here. For the problem in question, students must research what real-life solutions aren’t currently working and what other solutions are being developed. At this stage, as a teacher, you must gather what processes and skill gaps must be addressed to find a solution.
This is now the part where hands-on solutions are implemented and tried by your students. After they have completed their analysis of the current solutions and have a firm idea of what still needs to be addressed, it is time to make their solution a reality. They must use their prior skills, experience, and knowledge or what they were taught in the discovery stage to make this happen.
After students’ solutions have been completed, it is time for presentation and evaluation. This is not just an opportunity for students to receive feedback but also to become active participants in the process, an integral aspect that shouldn’t be understated.
The final stage of the process is the chance for students to reflect on the feedback received about their approach and their own experience. What have they learned? What would they do differently next time? Were they successful? They can refine and improve their solutions and answers by answering these questions or as a group.
5 Benefits of STEAM Education
- Improve problem-solving abilities.
- Applying the creative process to multiple disciplines.
- Champions collaboration and builds an appreciation for other disciplines.
- Engages students in practical and meaningful activities.
- Encourages students to make thoughtful leaps and connections.
Literacy in STEAM
One of the most important points about STEAM to stress is the emphasis on process-based learning. Using inquiry and critical thinking in an Arts-style standards framework, pushing children to ask questions and the right questions is super important. The sort of questions where finding out the answers themselves in a practical manner is the best option.
Using creativity, curiosity, and inquiry borrowed from the humanities is a great way to find solutions to a problem or answers to a question. But using STEAM does not mean letting English Language Arts or Social Studies take a step back and lose importance.
Social Studies and the humanities, for example, ask many questions and demand inquiry. STEAM is a very encompassing approach to learning that isn’t exclusive to the main STEM or STEAM subjects but is beneficial to learning and education.
Literacy within STEAM is still very prevalent; as part of the inquiry process, the evaluation, the reflection, and other functions within the main STEAM approach will utilize the written word and reading. Comprehension and making something comprehensive is also an asset.
Literacy is also always thought of in terms of written language – but what about reading music? Understanding chemical equations? Computer coding? These are all proof that literacy comes in many forms, and the STEAM approach will build literacy in one capacity or another.
The future of STEAM
With looming issues and problems not only in the U.S. but also the world over, the power of STEAM must be utilized as soon as possible to reap the benefits better. As the U.S. Department of Education states, it’s more important than ever that our students and future leaders:
- Develop the knowledge and skills to solve real-world problems
- Have the capacity to make sense of information
- Know how to gather and evaluate evidence to make informed decisions
- And students can do exactly that with high-quality STEAM education.
This highlights the importance of STEAM education and the value even the U.S. government places on it.