“STEAM” takes our standard STEM formulation (science, technology, engineering, and math) and adds an A for Arts. The STEAM Camp uses almost fifty percent of the class time focused on the arts.
STEAM is about sparking students’ imagination and helping students innovate through hands-on STEM projects. STEAM is about applying creative thinking and artist design skills so that students can imagine a variety of ways to develop creativity and use STEM skills.
STEAM is not about cultivating more artists or diluting STEM—it’s about creating students who think creatively and remain engaged in their artist learning. True, not everyone will want to or should go into STEM, but the point is to reach those who would contribute in STEM fields but may be turned off by a difficult math class or a “boring” biology teacher.
STEAM uses the arts and could be an “on-ramp to STEM for artist students.” STEAM uses design methods to approach STEM subjects creatively and make them real-world-relevant to all students, not just those already interested.
Students learning with STEAM might use 3-D printers and other high-tech “maker” materials that are hardly traditional art supplies. Rather than simply adding art, STEAM is developing high-order design skills while allowing students to innovate, invent, and succeed on their terms especially for those who might not seem to be naturally gifted in technical areas.
Ultimately, STEAM is people-centric, not subject-centric; it puts student personality and individuality at the forefront. With STEAM, the pressure is off to become a scientist or engineer—you can be a designer, digital artist, coder, art director, and scientist and engineer all at the same time. STEAM says we can be better engineers by learning how to think artistically, and we can re-engage artists with science by letting them see how STEM can work in the arts. It’s infinitely more exciting, especially in an increasingly interdisciplinary and digital world. In STEAM, creativity is the central tenet.