Those in the education space have most definitely heard the word “STEM” in regard to creating compelling content for students. This is with good reason since STEM hit the scene in 2006, educators have been encouraged to incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics into their curricula to ensure that students are prepared to enter an increasingly science- and engineering-focused job market.
With STEM’s focus on engaging students in critical thinking, science, literacy, and innovation, it’s no wonder educators embraced this framework. The emphasis on the horizontal alignment of subject areas can widen and deepen the understanding of complex subjects for students: science is not possible without mathematics, technology is not possible without engineering, etc. But, is there more to preparing students for the workforce than just the emphasis on STEM?
A year after STEM hit the ground running, Georgette Yakman advocated for the inclusion of the Arts within STE(A)M to create fully realized and well-rounded learners. Not only does the inclusion of the Arts make Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math more inclusive and sustainable, but the explicit introduction of the Arts also encourages creative and out-of-the-box thinking, a necessary facet to innovation.
By including the Arts into STEAM, you can capture the attention and excitement of students who may have otherwise been put off by the other subjects of traditional STEM. Whether you have students who buy into the myth that they are bad at math or you want girls to believe they are just as smart and capable as their male counterparts, encouraging the Arts in STEAM can be an entryway for every student to believe that they can be successful in all subject areas. With activities like Building with Jellybeans, Creating a Straw Roller Coaster, and Crafting a Styrofoam Shape Geoboard, it’s possible to get even the least excited students interested in pursuing STEAM.
There is one critical component missing from our STEAM framework to truly support and encourage 21st-century learners: literacy (Reading and wRiting). Literacy is the cornerstone of any well-rounded curriculum and it’s our duty as educators to ensure that students get every opportunity to engage with reading and writing. In a study of 13,000 urban students, researchers found that 82 percent of sixth-graders who had failed an English class did not go on to graduate from high school. It’s not enough to get our kids excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; it’s not enough to get kids excited by accessing their creative and innovative ideas. Students also need to have the reading and writing skills to be able to not only graduate from high school but pursue careers in an increasingly tech-centric workforce.
By bringing in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in creative and exciting ways through the Arts and having students unpack material with reading and writing, students can be prepared to face our 21st-century world with the skills they need to be successful (and some really great memories of exciting projects to boot!).
Ahead of National STEAM Day, Promethean is hosting a free, online conference dedicated to helping educators navigate the rapidly evolving world of STEAM instruction. On Thursday, November 5, from 1 to 7:30 p.m. EST, teachers, administrators, and edtech coaches can enjoy virtual sessions on hybrid/remote teaching, technology integration, STEAM best practices, hands-on STEAM applications, and more.
Attendees can sign up for each session separately and customize their schedules to fit their professional development needs. For more information on speakers, conference schedule, and registration, please visit prometheanworld.com/microsites/steam-forward/.