Guest Post provided by my daughter, H. Hefley-Lawson (proud Momma moment)
Most of us have heard the phrase “There is no I in team.” It is a parable to remind our youngsters that teamwork is good, and unbeknownst to them, necessary for a successful future as an adult. What many people don’t know is how necessary STEAM is to a successful society.
STEAM means “Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. It describes all of the necessary academic subjects that make up the foundation that our society is built on. We certainly have an emphasis on STEAM subjects in our colleges and universities, but how important are these subjects in the academic world of our children?
STEAM is all about helping students connect academic principals to life lessons and experiences. It is also about teaching students, with any type of learning style, that technical studies are just as worthwhile as graduate studies in a hands-on manner.
Children learn in many different ways and focusing on passing a year-end standardized test does not allow each child to learn in a meaningful way. Focusing, instead, on a project or assignment built and designed by the students themselves creates more meaning for the student during the learning process.
According to STEAM Education, a company which focuses on helping educators to create STEAM programs, “STEAM teaching allows educators to customize the learning experience and the amount and style of delivering content so that students can each learn similar content within one classroom in a variety of ways, so that whatever ways work best for them, they can benefit from.”
What parent would not want that type of quality education for their child?
STEAM takes the popular concept of STEM and compounds on it by adding Art into the mix. Art and creativity are what drive innovation. One example of STEAM and innovation in action, given by the Rhode Island School of Design, is the work of Charles Nègre, a 19th century art student who became fascinated by the science behind photography.
There are a monumental amount of jobs available, with projected increasing need, for graduates of STEAM related college programs. The US Department of Education projects a 14% increase in STEM related jobs from 2010-2020. They also state that the US ranks 25th in Math and 17th in Science among industrialized nations. As a country that is a world power, relying heavily on STEAM related innovation, it is important that we nurture opportunities for our children to learn and grow in meaningful ways. The US was built on innovation, entrepreneurship, and a desire to improve consistently. Using those same principles, the next generation of Americans can only move forward.
To find companies and organizations that support STEAM efforts, you can use an interactive map created by the Congressional STEAM Caucus at http://map.stemtosteam.org/ .
STEMtoSTEAM.org also lists many resources for STEAM education including datasets and reports.
A very entertaining and educational set of virtual STEAM “fieldtrips”, including downloadable activities, can be found at http://www.discoveryeducation.com/iamsteam/.
There is even an exciting new reality game geared at teaching STEAM concepts, called Dust.
There is no doubt that the future will be powered by STEAM!
IMAGE: NASA’s Leland Melvin reads “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, All the Way to the Moon” to Mrs. Elder’s kindergarten class in 2008. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith