What is STEAM education?

According livescience.com, “STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.”

In 2009, Former President Obama introduced a campaign titled “Education to Innovate,” which was designed to inspire students to work towards excelling in STEM areas.

Now, that acronym is known as STEAM.

But, what does the ‘A’ mean? And no, it isn’t a scarlet letter.

The addition to the already existing acronym is the inclusion of art–whether that be graphic design, drawing, or music.

The STEM to STEAM movement  is “championed by Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and widely adopted by institutions, corporations and individuals,” according to stemtosteam.org.

So, what is the importance of adding arts into technology education?

According to edweek.org, “STEM lessons naturally involve art, language arts, and social studies and history.

Coming from arts proponents, edweek.org says that “engineering and technology can certainly serve the artist and help create art.”

Perhaps one of the biggest aspects of integrating art is the realm of creative planning. According to edweek.org, “As students brainstorm solutions for an engineering problem, encourage them to adopt a playful, inventive, artistic approach.”

Currently, in the state of Georgia, there are almost 40 schools that are certified STEM/STEAM. These schools are, geographically, around the state, but a majority are located in the metro-Atlanta area.

Closer to home, Colham Ferry Elementary School (CFES) and Rocky Branch Elementary School (RBES) in Oconee County are STEM certified schools.

So, what does this mean?

For CFES, this means students in all grade levels focus on different things to increase their skills and knowledge–from a young age–on science related topics.

Both at CFES and RBES, student curriculum is developed through a Learning Design Process–something that allows for more improvement.

Because these schools are also in a rural area, one of the biggest things students are taught is within an agricultural focus.

STEM/STEAM education allows students to begin develop a logical type thinking process where they can ask, imagine, plan, create and improve…a skill that will hopefully carry them far in their educational and professional pursuits.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics students spend time at Brookhaven National Lab/ flickr.com
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