‘STEAM’ education gains momentum in schools

By Laura Devaney, Managing Editor
January 21st, 2013

More schools are climbing on board with STEAM education.

For years, educators have been told about the importance of STEM education—for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—in ensuring the nation’s competitiveness in a global economy.

But now, a new movement seeks to amend that acronym to “STEAM”—with an “A” for the arts.

Leading the charge is the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which maintains the website

According to the website, the movement aims to include art and design in STEM policy decisions; encourage the integration of art and design in K-20 education; and influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation.

“Design is increasingly becoming a key differentiator for technology startups and products,” the website states, and art and design “provide real solutions for our everyday lives, distinguish American products in a global marketplace, and create opportunity for economic growth.”

Integrating the arts into STEM education encourages students to develop critical thinking skills and innovative approaches to problem-solving, advocates say—while enhancing creative thinking and student engagement.

(Next page: Examples of STEAM education programs)

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7 Responses to “‘STEAM’ education gains momentum in schools”

I am excited to read about STEAM evolving from STEM. A couple of things come to mind. One, my local, semi-rural elementary and high schools have yet to really embrace STEM, and the arts have nearly disappeared altogether. Second, study and learning skills are not taught directly, as they could be, and are not well-integrated into the curriculum. Learning to learn strikes me a fundamental in the education paradigm that is being overlooked on all levels: standards, curriculum, and lessons. My thought here is that the STEAM approach combined with a new learning-to-learn focus could greatly improve education overall. Without strong skills for studying and turning information into long-term memory knowledge, even dedicated STEM -or STEAM- program students will falter. The average American student, if there is such a thing, views science and math as another language that is simply beyond understanding. This deeply held assumption can only be overcome if learning skills are emphasized in a whole new way.

January 22, 2013

want to learn STEM but as STEAM?


Take classes in Technical Theatre.

We do it ALL – and if we can find any way to get a computer involved, all the better.

Carpentry, welding, hydrolics, CNC, automation, riggin, sewing, electrical systems of all types, sound, …. (the list is VERY long).

After all, theatre is a reflection of the world and any techincal skill in the world can pretty much be found back stage too.

So here’s a little challenge — and no fair peaking on line to find the answer.

In the musical WICKED, at the end of the first act, Elphaba as she sings “Defying Gravity” must “fly” from stage level to nearly 30 feet above stage level in just a few bars of music.

BUT — you cannot use the tradition method of putting her in a harness attached to overhead wires as that would not be repeatable in some theaters when the show goes on tour.

So, how do you do it? And remember, she must rise straight up.

Hints: Pythagorian Theorum, hyrdrolics, commercial equipement, a whole ton of black fabric and stage FX smoke and a computer doing CNC.

January 22, 2013

Great idea. But given the current Common Core
mania it will be a hard sell. K-12 is busy
cutting art programs. Though we live
in a world that–largely due to computational
power–is more than ever filled with design
and graphics.

Art fosters divergent thinking, risk-taking, and innovation through the Creative Process (Brainstorming, Research and Planning, Executing, Reflecting, and Revising). All children are born with the ability to do this, but gradually lose their ability as they go through school (Sir Ken Robinson). As the experts agree on the value of these 21st Century Skills as being the foundation of our American economy, we risk our own demise if we don’t work to actively foster the arts in education. As Yong Zhao has proposed, we need to stop trying to match the test-taking abilities of other countries and start focusing on what we do best–leading the world in patents, design, and innovation (Zhao). We are this successful because our education allows creativity to survive education, but for how much longer? Creativity increased in our children from 1950-1992, but it has been decreasing ever since (Newsweek)–just about the same time our society starting demanding increased standardized testing as a measurement of success. This is exactly the wrong way to go. Everyone wants to be us–why are we trying to be like them? We should be the leaders, not the followers.
There is hope if STEM truly becomes STEAM.

January 23, 2013

Ideally it should be STREAM–adding an R for reading or literacy. Math, science, technology and the arts must include reading and writing. Learning these different content areas includes learning to read/write in these areas too. We can’t forget reading!

January 28, 2013

Reality matters more than anything except probably good health; which most say is an integral part of reality. In the STEM world or dealing with reality and how to make life better, requires knowing how the real world works. Which means knowing physics, chemistry, and advance math, generally known as calculus and differential equations along with some kind of practical vocation training which enhances hand-eye coordination. While practically everyone loves an artist, including me, in all my travels, I have never met an artist willing to subject themselves to these above listed real world learning experiences, unfortunately, which are an absolute necessity to understand how the real world works and how to accomplish anything real. So no STEAM from STEM unless STEM is learned first. And likely no endorsements for any STEAM also unless STEM is learned first.