You’ve likely heard of STEM education. It focuses on four core subjects, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Lately, however, educators have broadened the concept to include another topic — arts. STEAM education inspires students to think broadly and solve problems with a hands-on approach. It cultivates learning through collaborative exploration and real-world problems. Plus, it advances post-education employment opportunities.
Between 2009 and 2015, STEM occupations grew by 10.5% — faster than average with more than 800,000 jobs. This number does not account for positions within the arts field, such as graphic and web design.
Discover the benefits of STEAM and how you can implement it into your curriculum.
1. It Encourages Independent Thinking
STEAM projects require students to think critically through problems. They apply the information they’ve already learned with technology and engineering to determine the best solution. With the job market shifting rapidly, now is the time for education to be innovative.
With this type of curriculum, students operate by themselves or collaborate within small groups. They work in learning environments that offer minimal risk, reinforcing the idea that mistakes and failure are OK — even productive. Students can individually pursue challenges at their own pace and skill level.
2. It Offers an Interdisciplinary Approach
STEAM education focuses on collaboration and innovation across disciplines. Science isn’t more important than engineering or the arts. Teachers present topics in relation to one another. This type of curriculum looks at incorporating multiple subjects within the same lesson.
For example, a digital technologies class may ask students to code a simple app. Students can learn computer language and problem-solve bugs. In the same lesson, they might use software to design a logo or focus on user experience.
3. It Utilizes Goal-Oriented Learning
Education that concentrates on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics is hands-on and project-based. When students choose a goal and stick with it, they can explore and experiment with knowledge. This method supports personal learning journeys and promotes expression.
Goals in learning are not meant to fit a student within a specific niche. Instead, they’re designed to make complex topics less intimidating and more approachable. Unlike traditional projects, students aren’t encouraged to obtain and analyze data. Instead, they can customize their experience through exploration.
4. It Develops Problem-Solving Skills
Creative problem-solving is a strong skill to have in the job market. Creativity might seem like a trait that comes instinctually for some. Many think it’s something you’re either born with or not. However, it’s something educators can cultivate.
Evidence suggests standardized tests encourage conformity, which tamps down creativity. Open-ended exploration serves as a form of inquiry. When rules aren’t clearly defined, students can think, explore possibilities and consider different variables. Learners can assess a broad set of details and understand the problem-solving process is flexible.
5. It Engages Real-World Applications
STEAM education urges students to think outside the classroom and look at the bigger picture. Then, as concepts become more advanced, students can begin to make applicable real-world connections. This approach encourages ongoing learning, an idea that stands out against other initiatives.
For example, a student who decides to build a website can interact with real-world problems on a smaller scale. Help them identify and relate their projects to their immediate environment. For example, a site might come with troubleshooting, peer collaboration and customer service.
6. It Promotes Meaningful Collaboration
Projects in STEAM involve teamwork and thoughtful collaboration. During this time, students can brainstorm, exchange ideas and discuss ways to solve problems. As a result, students learn how to divvy up tasks, compromise on plans of action and encourage each other. Collaboration ultimately prepares students for real-life social and employment situations.
Educators can strategically team up students to help them learn how to use their different strengths and skillsets. For example, say they are creating 3D art depicting animals. One student might be familiar with origami and paper construction, while another is knowledgable about mammals.
How to Implement STEAM Into School Curricula
Do you want to implement STEAM into your classroom? If so, follow the five steps below:
- Implement cross-platform tools: STEAM programs should allow for maximum taking apart, reusing and repurposing. Consider new ways to use the tools and objects around us. Devices should easily integrate with arts and crafts materials.
- Integrate core subject matters: Take an interdisciplinary approach to help students deepen their understanding of concepts. Consider hands-on projects that involve math, science, social sciences, language arts and music.
- Connect projects with the community: The foundation of every STEAM program is identifying a project, brainstorming solutions, sharing, receiving feedback and promoting optimization. Identify problems students care about and can relate to.
- Maximize collaboration opportunities: Allow students to work together and share their knowledge. Adopt projects where students can brainstorm and problem-solve while testing out various strengths. Strategically craft groups to challenge students and allow them to flourish.
- Embrace mistakes and failures: An effective STEAM program promotes hands-on learning, including the mistakes and failures that come along. Create an environment where students feel comfortable taking risks and thinking outside the box.
Start small when you implement STEAM in the classroom. Ask students which projects they’d like to work on and which real-world problems interest them. Once you notice your students’ strengths and weaknesses, you can plan a curriculum that suits them.
The Benefits of Adopting STEAM Education
We’ve all heard of the importance of STEM in education. However, we can’t forget about the arts. All core subjects meld together into the real-life ability to solve problems.
Between 2010 and 2020, jobs in STEAM and STEM will grow up to 14% — faster than the rest of the job market, which is growing at a rate of 5-8%. Adopting this program in your curriculum will have a major impact.
If you’re an educator, consider the benefits of this program. From encouraging independent thinking to promoting collaboration, you’ll wonder why you haven’t implemented STEAM objectives before.