As a parent or an educator, you may have heard the term' STEAM' being used to describe a new way of learning. What is it though, and what does it mean for students today? Here's exactly what STEAM means for the future of learning.
What is STEAM?
If you've heard of STEM learning, then STEAM is simply a new variation on how they're taught. STEM stands for Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Math. The A in STEAM stands for Art, and it's the inclusion of this subject that changes up how STEM subjects are taught. Using the arts means that children can learn essential skills in an entirely new and holistic way.
This is critical for many students, says Grant Majors from Academized. ‘Not every child finds it easy to grasp the ideas that are present in STEM subjects' he says. ‘When we team them up with the arts, they can start learning principles in the context of an art they understand.'
Why STEAM is so important
Traditionally in schools, each subject has been taught in a separate, contained lesson. At 1 pm you study science, and at 2 pm you're doing art. Now though, educators are moving towards a more blended education system. Rather than keeping the subjects separate, they're blended together and students study more than one subject at once.
Why is this important? Because it shows students that the world isn't as segregated as their old lessons used to be. We use multiple facets of our learning every day, so students can now get that experience while they're still in school.
It also does away with the concept of ‘unliked' or ‘hard' sessions in class. No student is going to be happy in the classroom if they're dreading their math class after lunch. If it's blended with another subject that they do enjoy, they won't even notice that they're dealing with complex notions in math at all.
What's also worth remembering is that STEAM is a great way of getting girls into typically male dominated subjects. It's easier for many girls to be introduced to a concept such as coding if it's mixed in with another subject or activity.
Finally, STEAM means that students strengthen their critical thinking skills. PhD degree holder and writer Moira Gates from UK dissertation says ‘It's vital that children are learning critical thinking skills early on. They're learning to analyse what they're seeing, rather than blindly accepting it. It's a skill that will serve them well later in life.'
How STEAM is taught in schools
There are all kinds of ways that STEAM can be taught in schools. The only limits are really the educators' and the students' imaginations. Here are a few examples to show you how it can be done:
– To teach art to reluctant engineering students, you can ask them to sketch out a plan or idea, using certain images. It's a way of expressing their ideas without using the coding or language they're familiar with.
– Coding can be taught as part of a video creation project, where students create videos and then need to edit and publish them themselves.
– You can mix languages and any subject together with ease. For example, children can be asked to try explaining an experiment in French.
As you can see, there are all kinds of ways that STEAM can be implemented in the classroom. They key is to allow children to use their imagination, and encourage them to look at a situation from a different angle.
STEAM is one of the best ways to prepare students for the world ahead of them. It teaches critical thinking skills and encourages curiosity. There's no better way to keep students engaged.