We have seen the following two terms before – STEM and STEAM. While STEM is not new, lately it is gaining a lot of attention as educators look for more effective and meaningful ways to connect with and engage students.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Alternatively, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Infusing Art into the world of Science and Technology has significant benefits. In fact, certain emerging fields require an awareness of art, design, creativity, and subjectivity to go along with objective, logical, and numerical thoughts.
The importance is understood when we introduce the word “integration” in STEM and STEAM education. Instead of the disciplines being taught in independent subject silos, lessons are well-rounded, project and inquiry-based, with a focus on interdisciplinary learning. STEM and STEAM align with the way we work, and solve problems in our daily lives, making it an exceptional way of instructing and learning. The discrete subject areas do not work on their own, instead, they are woven together in practical, multidisciplinary, and seamless ways allowing the emergence of concepts and ideas that are innovative. The conception, design, and development of products begin to take on new meaning.
The addition of Arts to STEM to create STEAM is about incorporating creative thinking and applied arts in real situations. Art isn’t just about working in a studio or painting on a canvas. Art is about discovering and creating ingenious ways of problem-solving, thinking in the abstract, integrating varied principles, and even presenting information visually.
We need to educate children in how multiple subjects integrate and work together. They need to develop diverse skills sets and a passion for exploration and growth.
STEM embraces the 4 C’s identified as key in 21st Century education: Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Communication. STEM helps to foster a love of learning. And the most important gift an education should give a student is a love of learning.