By Jane Laudeman
As educators around the world explore new ways to instill students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful innovators in an ever-evolving 21st century, there has been a growing emphasis placed on STEAM – an educational discipline that engages students with the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics. Many educators believe STEAM (and its forerunner STEM) is a critical component of 21st education. “Education is under pressure to respond to a changing world,” education writer Jeevan Vasagar asserts in a Financial Times article. As repetitive tasks are eroded by technology and outsourcing, the ability to solve novel problems has become increasingly vital.”
STEAM inspires teachers to utilize project-based learning that intersects each of the five fields and cultivates an inclusive learning environment in which all students are able to connect and contribute. Unlike traditional methods of teaching, educators use the STEAM framework to bring the disciplines together and enable students to use both sides of their brain at the same time. STEAM not only teaches students how to think critically, solve problems and use creativity, it prepares students to work in career areas that are predicted to experience significant growth.
Why add the “A” in STEAM? When it comes to equipping our youth with creative critical thinking skills, STEM is not enough. The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) was one of the early champions of adding the arts to the earlier STEM education framework to create STEAM which emphasizes the important “symbiosis between the arts and sciences.” According to RISD, ”The goal is to foster the true innovation that comes with combining the mind of a scientist or technologist with that of an artist or designer.” Former RISD President, John Maeda, an early advocate for STEAM, has emphasized the concept that design thinking and creativity are essential ingredients for innovation.
The IEA team is excited to be planning the IEA STEAM-a-thon, a peer-to-peer fundraising event set to kick off on Saturday, September 18. This four-week virtual event will feature opening and closing presentations, STEAM challenges/experiments for competition, a judges panel, prizes and a keynote speaker. This is a wonderful opportunity to inspire young STEAM innovators from across the country and raise vital funding for IEA’s programs and services. IEA needs your support! We invite you, your family or your business to become a SPONSOR of the STEAM-a-thon. Click here for sponsorship information. In August, be on the lookout for information on the IEA website about joining the STEAM-a-thon.