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Director, Education Division, Creativity & Associates

When I read about the

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When I read about the importance of creativity in education, I'm usually reminded immediately of Ken Robinson who taught me that "imagination" is an activity that happens in the mind and "creativity" is imagination in action. It's not OED, but it is a helpful device for thinking and talking about imagination and creativity.

While the arts are not the only path to creativity, they provide a tangible and enjoyable path to get there. As an arts integration specialist, I am a strong believer that the arts are an effective method for sparking the imagination and leading to increased creativity. It is also a way to engage different modes of thinking in order to imagine things that may not have popped up in mind during traditional methods of instruction. For example, one of my personal goals is to work with a group of students to create a movement piece based on cell division. Once it is in their muscle memory, the students will remember cell division for years.

Science Evangelist

Thanks for your post. I just

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Thanks for your post. I just made an earlier comment on a materials science book that I had my students create for the general public and how this project enable a richer and deeper learning of concepts. Please take a look and let me know if that helps.

Science Evangelist

Songs + Science is a perfect

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Songs + Science is a perfect combination for STEAM at the elementary level. There are so many points of access to slip information into the brain and song is a seamless and fun path. (Again, it is about creating analogies and songs and poetry about science enable that.) SchoolHouse Rock worked for me. I think we need more of that (and an updated form) for the next generation. If you come up with a science rap, give me a ring.

As for other ideas, how about each student make their own guitar from scratch? You've got physics mixed with art mixed with "making." Your children might never leave the classroom. You can also look at the science of boomwhackers to steel drums.

Another skill kids need is the ability to compare, not only leaves to other leaves, but concepts to other concepts. The movement of gas molecules, is the same physics for the movement of people in crowds, and the same for the movement of galaxies and stars (a field called thermodynamics.). The more science you know, the more similar things become, but you've got to build that muscle for seeing the parallels. Adding more "A" to the class, gives students the permission to make these kinds of leaps.

Science Evangelist

This is a very good question,

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This is a very good question, which requires more thought, but let me share some brief ideas.

Last year, I taught a materials science course for liberal arts majors. For one assignment, I had each of my students write a 2-page entry and line drawing that we would compile into a materials science "book" for the general public. Their goal was to write something and make it understandable for their grandparent (barring their grandparent wasn't a scientist). This assignment required students to go a bit deeper in their understanding to come up with good analogies (which was one of the stipulations of the assignment). And, it forced them to make good choices about how much information the illustration should convey. This was really a hit wit the students, because the assignment felt real to them and they had a deeper understanding of the science. If they could play with the concept with an analogy, they had their own access point to the information too.

I also had students create crystal structures using styrofoam balls and toothpicks, instead of the usual trigonometry-laced lecture. Making science models is the "A" part (the "art" part) in STEAM. And, using illustrations to display information has both parts of the brain firing.

Education Consultant

I was an elementary music

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I was an elementary music teacher, so the A was always very present in my classroom. But I was often asked to help other teachers incorporate the A into their curriculum. We organized various interdisciplinary projects, from designing your own instrument in science class to writing melodies and songs for math concepts. Do you think this is an example of using the A in STEAM? I'm trying to think of other examples from practice. Do you have any others?

visual artist/ teaching artist

Hello Ainissa! It is so good

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Hello Ainissa!

It is so good to hear that you have shown science as it really is, fascinating and beautiful!
As said in other comments, creativity already plays an important part in the progress of the Sciences. Could you tell us how you use the Arts, the A on STEAM, in your lessons?

Science Evangelist

My point is that engineers

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My point is that engineers and scientists do not claim creativity, but they indeed use it. When I was a scientist at Bell Labs, the most prolific inventors and thinkers where highly creative and could see problems and solutions differently then others. Einstein was highly creative. You might think my claim about creativity as the secret sauce is hyperbole, but from my experience in the lab as a scientist and as a professor, it is in my estimation a fact. We might just have to agree to disagree.

Dedicated to bringing the best in design and visualization into instruction

Perhaps the article engages

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Perhaps the article engages in a little bit of hyperbole. For example “Creativity is the secret sauce to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)” is much stronger than asserting that it is important, or that it is a virtue. I don't know any practicing scientists or engineers who would insist that creativity, drive and passion are not intrinsic to the actual execution of first quality science and engineering. But the importance of understanding and methodology makes the secret sauce statement a little strong. Perhaps creativity is one ingredient in the secret sauce.

I also see an issue with the idea that art is required for the creative aspect. My central point here is that creativity is one of the central features of science and engineering. Perhaps this is part of the problem we have with teaching these topics – we teach them without passion and without creativity. When you leave these aspects out you are not teaching science, you are teaching about science.

“I’ve witnessed that the best of the best are the most creative.” Absolutely. This concept needs to percolate throughout education. It is just that it is not something that comes from outside of science or engineering, it is intrinsic to it.

Providing OER resource links to improve k-12th grade mathematics.

“So how do we make our

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“So how do we make our children more creative?” By recognizing the need for their teachers (or future teachers) to experience creativity themselves. How can we promote creativity if you have not experienced it yourself ! PhD’s have been forced to be creative [at least once in their life]. Authors of materials are forced to be creative; yet teachers and future teachers are rarely forced to be creative. They sit in classes where the lecturer talks on and on about the creativity of others without giving future teachers the time to be creative. Research efforts need to figure out how to allow creativity to be part of the process of becoming a teacher. Then the teacher can “make our children more creative.”(period)

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