StEAM is not about what, who, or when - it's about why and how. steam is a process of application which allows students to create meaning from themselves and others.
STEAM education is an approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. Using STEAM education results in students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century!
STEAM is an integrated approach to learning which requires an intentional connection between standards, assessments, and lesson/design implementation. STEAM experiences involve two or more standards from Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics being taught AND assessed through each other. Project-based learning with an emphasis on inquiry and collaboration are at the core of the STEAM approach. Our teachers utilize and leverage the arts themselves in our authentic STEAM initiatives.
In all subject and grade level contents, there are six (6) steps in creating a STEAM-Centered classroom. In each step, our teachers work through both content and arts standards to address an essential question.
Step 1: Focus - In this step, our teachers select an essential question to answer or problem to solve. This provides the clear focus and addresses the content standards chose.
Step 2: Detail - During this phase, students search for the elements that are contributing to the problem or question. While observing the correlations to other areas, our students discover key background information, skills, and/or processes that they already know to address the problem.
Step 3: Discover - Student in the discovery phase are conducting active research. Students research content solutions and learn what isn't working with solutions that already exist.
Step 4: Application - This is where the fun happens! After students have dived deep into a problem or question and have analyzed current solutions as well as what still needs addressed, they can begin to create their own solution or composition to the problem. This is where they use the skills, processes and knowledge that were taught in the discovery stage and put them to work.
The STEM to STEAM movement has taken root over the last few years and is emerging as a constructive mode of action to better meet the needs of the 21st century economy. STEM on its own lacks a range of core components that many employers, educators, and parents have expressed as vital for our children to succeed in the current and increasingly approaching future.
The logic is simple: the wave of potential economic growth lies in a workforce that is well versed in rising labor markets such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As a result, increased investment has been made in STEM programs in schools. While these programs are a wonderful start in the exploration, the vital phase of imagination and innovation is lacking. Students in STEM programs may have more experiential learning experiences, but they are restricted to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Our economy needs so much more than an understanding of these fields.