STEAM education has become monumentally important in classrooms, and for good reason–the skills students learn in STEAM classes and programs can help prepare them for advanced education classes, training programs, and the workforce.

A focus on STEAM education doesn’t mean students have to pursue careers in the field–those STEAM experiences are important regardless of students’ eventual career paths. Even if students don’t pursue jobs in tech fields like computer programming or engineering, the skills they learn are easily applied in other fields.

1. One junior high school in Texas has made it a mission to engage all students in different aspects of STEAM, because, as the educators say, students are propelled further into STEM education and exploration when they use their creative drive. At Celeste Junior High School in the Celeste Independent School District in Texas, students are engaged in a variety of STEAM experiences in an effort to help build those critical skills. Students use a variety of apps and tools for coding, programming and robotics, and multimedia projects that cross curricular areas.

2. With students’ hyper-exposure to the growing applications for technology, STEAM education and programs mean real-world applications are readily apparent to students. The Salamanca City Central School District incorporates a drone curriculum into its STEAM programs. With the core drone skills, students open themselves to employment opportunities in diverse sectors such as cinematography, industrial inspections, public safety, agriculture, construction, specialized sciences, and much more. With little initial guidance on how to most effectively develop a drone-focused curriculum, district educators learned a few important lessons that other districts can apply should they choose to adopt drone training into their STEAM programs.

3. Many schools are turning to STEAM education and initiatives to increase student engagement and improve achievement. Santa Rosa County (FL) District Schools partnered with Discovery Education and created STEAM Innovate!, an initiative focused on helping teachers get students involved in the 4Cs and away from the “sage on stage” model.

Recently, Bill Emerson, the district’s assistant superintendent, observed a STEAM lesson in a kindergarten classroom with 18 students. The children read Humpty Dumpty and designed a vehicle so that Humpty wouldn’t crack when he was dropped off of a ladder. “Groups of four or five students drew up ideas, built them, and tested them, and three of the four groups developed a system that kept the egg from cracking,” says Emerson. The coolest thing? Eleven of the 18 children had behavior challenges.

4. Only 25 percent of schools across the country offer a computer science class with coding or programming as part of the curriculum. It’s more important than ever to incorporate STEM and STEAM principles into the classroom to prepare students for the workforce. Kids are already immersed in the world of technology, but it’s important to incorporate STEM principles into the classroom to arm students with the skills they need to succeed in the job landscape of the future. In one Illinois district’s classrooms, educators use a variety of tools to teach the values of STEAM education.

5. Smart is the new cool, and that’s the message behind 2018’s National STEM/STEAM Day. The impending STEAM worker shortage is no secret, and districts are working hard to ensure their students have early and frequent exposure to STEAM learning. In fact, early exposure is key to keeping students engaged in progressively challenging material. And even if students don’t pursue a STEAM field in college, that’s OK–the skills they learn in K-12, such as collaboration and critical thinking, will serve them well in whatever career path they take. While you wait for the next National STEAM Day, check out some resources to keep students engaged in STEAM education and learning.

6. Introducing STEAM and identifying the best ways to integrate it into the curriculum can be challenging–but there’s hope. Embracing STEAM education means committing to a new way of teaching and learning, which can be daunting for many educators.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura


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