Monday, August 26, 2013

Full STEAM Ahead!

Do you know what STEAM stands for? You should and get on board! (Don't worry this is not another education bandwagon...)
S (science) T (technology) E (engineering) A (the arts) M (math)

We know these things:
  • "there is a science to everything." 
  • Technology motivates our digital natives and is here to stay.
  • Engineering and design are crucial for critical thinking.
  • Our world revolves around mathematical principles.

Just when you thought you had STEM figured out (yes, STEAM but without the arts), educational experts are now promoting the value of educators integrating their teaching through the arts. This is an incredibly essential piece of student learning. Students express themselves in many ways which are connected to the arts. Just look at Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences. Research shows that most students are bodily kinesthetic and visual learners. Yet, often we expect them to express all their thinking in a multiple choice quiz, open ended answer or true/false platform.

Many, many wonderful educators have been infused STEAM in their traditional and contemporary teaching methods through problem solving, encouraging students to draw, act or even sing out their thoughts and answers. Facilitating learning in different ways for students to make connections through interdisciplinary activities is key. With only a limited amount of actual learning able to take place in the school day--we must find ways to bring the curriculum across the content together in a seamless way.

Gone are the days when middle school and high school teachers should teach their subject areas in isolation. With the advances in technology and STEAM initiatives on the forefront, the vision is that teachers will come together then find ways to make real world and authentic connections. It's all about interdisciplinary collaboration throughout the day with their students.

At home, parents can encourage and seek out ways to infuse the STEAM elements into their daily life. We don't want to raise kids who are worried and negative about science and math (in particular) I asked my undergrad students (who are pre-service teachers) last semester what they thought a scientist looked like. They all drew pictures of a male in a white lab coat with test tubes, beakers in a lab with chemicals.

During the course of the semester we discussed STEAM and how EVERYONE is a scientist, mathematician, engineer, artist and technology expert in some way shape or form.

The last day of class I asked them the same question. "What does a scientist look like?" They all drew pictures of themselves (in normal clothing) outside or inside working with kids on various activities, exploring and learning at it's best.

Fascinating how people can grow when you water them with the tools they need to be confident  and life-long learners. All learners need to have the opportunity to grow!

You don't need to buy a ticket to be support STEAM, just get on the right track!

Here are some helpful resources:

1 comment:

  1. Love that story Mandi - great testament to the power of teaching an open mind!