I have been a science educator most of my adult life, so it is no surprise that I am an advocate for STEM education. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM is all the rage in education now and for very good reason.
The U.S. is behind, but what does that mean? Our test scores and the number of people that are going into jobs in these fields have been on a declining trend. The STEM initiative was born, but what is STEAM? For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links. You can read the full disclosure here.
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What is STEAM?
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. As often happens, when a group does something out of fear or response to something negative the shift has gone overboard.
Education funding is limited so in order to fund STEM funding has often been cut from arts programs. This is similar to how many schools have reduced recess to make more time for instruction. While both seemed like good ideas, they have had disastrous results.
When we have arts programs and plenty of recess, we see gains. We see happier kids and families. These kids are engaged and excited about their educations, and as a result test scores improve. Enter STEAM.
“STEAM uses design methods to approach STEM subjects creatively and make them real-world-relevant to all students, not just those already interested.” Anne Jolly Education Week
STEAM Activities Need to be Accessible.
Teachers are often stuck in the middle with little time and resources to get it all done. Homeschoolers can be easily intimidated by science. Math phobia is rampant in this country. The list goes on and on.
As a result, kids are not getting rich STEAM education. I believe that STEAM needs to start early and often and go from there. STEAM can be simple and still be significant. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated or costly because kids are naturally going to tinker when given the chance to explore.
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There are many great advantages to adding the arts to STEM. I agree with Anne Jolly (above). Kids interested in the arts might not typically be interested in STEM.
We are exposing people to the idea that STEM involves creativity. Innovation and creativity are keys to the future in an evolving job market. We want people that cannot only find the solution, but find the problem.
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Check out this infographic for more information about STEM vs. STEAM education.
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