Posted on 10/17/2014 at 09:42 PM by Blog Experts

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is an often-heard term these days. There are STEM projects, grants, and conferences. There are STEM classes, activities, and projects. No one would argue that STEM education isn’t important for our students and for our country, as STEM is everywhere and shapes what we do individually, locally, and nationally. STEM is also important for global competiveness, and for solving complex problems that we currently face, and that we will face in the future. Many of the best future careers may be in STEM, as they are growing at a much more rapid rate than other careers. But why are so many businesses not able to fill current high-tech jobs? Many believe the reason is because we are leaving art out of STEM.

What about the arts? Why not STEAM? Aren’t the arts just as important—especially creativity and visual literacy? According to STEM to STEAM (2014), the “A” should be Art + Design. The objectives of STEAM are:

  • “Transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM
  • Encourage integration of Art + Design in K–20 education
  • Influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation”

According to White (2010), art education is the link to economic wellbeing. Art education leads to creativity, which is essential for innovation, which leads to the creation of new industries, which leads to job growth and a better economy. White believes that one of the reasons China is now ahead of the US is because the arts are an important component of their education system. South Korea has also recently added the arts to its STEM programs because they concluded that STEM programs alone were far too removed from real-world applications.

Brady (2014) cited research that found participation in the arts has shown to reduce dropout rates and increase standardized test scores. Additionally, students who participate in the arts are also better problem solvers. That could be why Texas Instruments, Boeing, Nike, Apple, Intel, 3M, and many other companies are looking at design and/or creativity as a priority.

One place to begin turning STEM to STEAM is a new course developed by Adobe Education Exchange (http://edex.adobe.com/professional-development/workshop/stem-201). The course is titled, “Integrating the Arts in to STEM 201: Creating Rigorous and Relevant STEAM Projects”. The workshop consists of a variety of learning opportunities, and is based on Project-Based Learning (http://bie.org/). Participants will discover the interplay between STEM and art in symmetrical patterns, looking at art history and geometric concepts concurrently in symmetry projects. Finally, participants will share a resource, implement their project, and reflect on the results. The video below shows the possibilities of the integration of mathematics, science, and art.

Resources

Brady, J. (2014, September 5). “STEM is incredibly valuable, but if we want the best innovators, we must teach the arts.” The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/09/05/stem-is-incredibly-valuable-but-if-we-want-the-best-innovators-we-must-teach-the-arts/

Science Pioneers. (n.d.). Why STEM education is important for everyone. Retrieved from http://www.sciencepioneers.org/parents/why-stem-is-important-to-everyone

STEM to STEAM. (2014). What is STEAM? Retireved from http://stemtosteam.org/

Traurig, A. & Feller, R. (2010). Why STEM? Retrieved from http://stemcareer.com/why-stem/

White, H. (2010). STEAM not STEM. Retrieved from http://steam-notstem.com/

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