SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY ENGINEERING ART MATHEMATICS
Woodrow Wilson High School
What is STEAM?
STEAM is the abbreviation for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math. It’s an integrated approach to learning that encourages students to think more broadly about real-world problems.
STEAM is an educational initiative created by the Rhode Island School of Design that adds the arts to the original STEM framework. According to the Rhode Island School of Design, “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.” The addition of the arts to the original STEM framework is important as practices, such as modeling, developing explanations, and engaging in critique, and evaluation (argumentation), have too often been underemphasized in the context of math & science education.
In today’s world, setting students up for future success means exposing them to these disciplines holistically in order to develop their critical thinking skills. “Education is under pressure to respond to a changing world,” writes Jeevan Vasagar in a Financial Times article, Countries that excel at problem-solving encourage critical thinking. “As repetitive tasks are eroded by technology and outsourcing, the ability to solve novel problems have become increasingly vital.”
And the earlier students are exposed to the STEAM disciplines, the better. In a study by Microsoft Corporation it was shown that 4 in 5 STEAM college students (78%) say that they decided to study STEAM in high school or earlier and one in five (21%) decided in middle school or earlier. Yet, only 1 in 5 STEAM college students feel that their K–12 education prepared them extremely well for their college courses in STEAM. There also appears to be a major disparity in the female to male ratio when it comes to those employed in STEAM fields. Getting more girls interested in STEAM disciplines is another facet of the movement.
Not only does a STEAM framework teach students how to think critically, problem solve and use creativity, it prepares students to work in a field that is poised for growth.
Currently the small learning community EUS Environmental Urban Studies at Wilson high school is undergoing a systemic change as well as STEAM certification through the Los Angeles Unified School District. This movement is being led by Eladio Chavez whom has a masters in STEAM education and has been accepted as a collaborator in the STEAM collaborative that will help expand STEAM throughout LAUSD.
STEAM is an interdisciplinary approach to learning. It brings all disciplines together to solve small to large problems.
This interdisciplinary approach has helped create innovations like the iPhone, the original laptop computer, and is even revolutionizing how society in third world countries solve problems and create change.
It helps students:
Connect the dots
This is an important change in education. For too long we have taught students through lecture, textbooks, and unconnected information that is usually out of context. It is time we take concepts out of the departments and connect the learning to the real world. Thinking, reasoning and learning can be connected to students needs to help shape and mold their environment.
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