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Connecting STEM and Arts (TEAMS) to Spur U.S. Innovation: Part 1 of 5

Betty Ray

Senior Editor at Large
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Editor's Note: Today's guest blogger is Jim Brazell, a technology forecaster, author, public speaker, and consultant. This is the first article in a five-part series.

In 2010, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference featured a "crowd sourced" keynote selection. People voted over the web and the most popular nominee was given the closing keynote of one of the largest educational computing conferences in the world.

On July 1, Hawaii's Jeff Piontek declared: "It's no longer STEM. It's STEAM." His presentation slides had white typeface for the words science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and bold red typeface for the word arts. The educator drew enthusiastic applause from the crowd of thousands.

The term STEM was coined by Dr. Judith Ramaley when she was assistant director of the education and human resources directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2001 to 2004 (Chute, 2009). Ramaley's concept of STEM situates learning in the context of solving real world problems or creating new opportunities—pursuit of innovation. Spurred by a public and private sector push for global competitiveness, STEM has become a lightning rod for education in 2010.

People involved in the movement to integrate STEM and the arts use the acronym "TEAMS" or "STEAM." Advocates from both the world of science and the world of arts have converged in a grass roots movement. The movement is about transformative practices in education that unify knowing and doing theory and application.

According to the NSF, the great scientific and technological breakthroughs are expected at the intersection of disciplines. Related to TEAMS, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) both have emerging practices. Model schools and states are emerging though they are highly differentiated. Part three of this article series covers a TEAMS model school in California and part four identifies Ohio as a TEAMS model state.

On January 11, 2010, the National Science Teachers Association published "Reaching Students Through STEM and the Arts." The article describes efforts underway across the U.S. focused on integrating science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) curricula.

In 2007, the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) released Arts Integration Frameworks, Research and Practice: A Survey of the Literature on Arts Integration as a free online book. The book is a complete survey of the literature related to arts integration. Today, integrated technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and science (TEAMS) initiatives are grass roots and emerging but not yet part of the formal national STEM innovation agenda.

During President Barack Obama's April 2009 visit to the 146th congress of the National Academy of Science, he announced more planned investment in STEM education, research and commercialization than America spent to answer Russia's Sputnik and ultimately to pioneer space travel to the moon. In his shadow are Eisenhower's investments in the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA and the Defense research and development office DARPA.

Today, the questions and circumstances are different than the Sputnik Era; however, the goal is the same -- innovation. On July 28, 2010, the Father of the U.S. Global Positioning System, Col. (Dr.) Francis "Duke" Kane read this article. Duke's response is: "STEM represents the knowledge, tools and processes to invent the future, however, the arts are what make us human. They are inseparable."

Energy innovation, workforce innovation, educational innovation, and economic innovation are all part of the U.S. innovation agenda. The arts; however, are struggling to find a voice and a place in the 21st century story. Stay tuned for part two of the five article series: Emerging TEAMS Innovation in Florida, New York and Texas.

Jim Brazell is a technology forecaster, author, public speaker, and consultant. In October of 2009, Jim's comments related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) were heard by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Jim speaks to 25-to-50 groups about change, shifts and innovation. His past speech engagements and workshops include audiences at the Innovation Creativity and Capital Institute, the Chautauqua Institute, National School Board Association, National Council on Workforce Education (NCWE), and the Community College Futures Assembly, IEEE, National Security Agency (ASTD), Air Education Training Command (AETC), Navy Learning Strategies Consortium, and the Bio Defense Summit among others.

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Jim Brodie Brazell's picture
Jim Brodie Brazell
Radical Platypus

This is the work of the DaVinci Minds composed of the old guard and the next generation of the Society for Design and Process Science (SDPS) and the Software Engineering Society (SES). Here is what is on the minds of the young people who will create the future of complex systems and transdisciplinarity:

Understand people
embrace other perspectives
help bring awareness

Listen to people
Promote communication
Be more tolerant

Preserve your culture
Understand other cultures
Cheer diversity

Obstacles appear
United we stand the way
Fruitful the result

Compassion, help, lover
Listen and respond to act
Respect shall follow

Leap into vision
Reaching out to form beauty
Invigorate them

From June 7 to June 11 of 2010, the Society for Design and Process Science (SDPS) met in Dallas Texas to discuss the role of transdisciplinary and transformative research and education in society. Discussions throughout the week centered on questions related to how the arts, business, science and engineering can be engaged in a systematic way to "harness the collective wisdom of humanity" to create history by design.

Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg (Physics) gave the opening address and inspired conference-long discussions about the "civilizing effect" that design and science bring to the world. Artist Lily Yeh from Barefoot Artists emotionalized the world of science and its responsibility to the Earth and humanity with stories of compassionate community building and purposeful action. The theme of the conference was "how to harness the collective wisdom of humanity" for our betterment.

More of SDS and SES Professional Societies:

Please note, SDPS is looking for partners who want to change the world. If you have a problem or a solution to a globally importnat issue contact Dr. Murat Tanik at SDPS.

Georgette Yakman's picture
Georgette Yakman
STEAM Education Expert

That graphic is much more, in 2006 I developed a framework for teaching called STEAM that formerly incorporated the ARTS into the STEM structure and the arts include the liberal, fine, manual and physical arts. I have done extensive research on this topic and present around the country to educators on this topic. If anyone is interested in the research papers behind this, please feel free to email me

Jim Brodie Brazell's picture
Jim Brodie Brazell
Radical Platypus

PCAST - San Antonio TX: San Antonio education reformer answers Obama's "21st Century Sputnik"-Call-to-Action: U.S. Vocational Education Integrating the Three Houses of Education to Enhance American Innovation and Financial Recovery

PCAST - Comments to Presidents Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)

PCAST - US TEAMS Economic Development, Science & Technology R&D, Workforce & Education Strategy."

PCAST - From STEM to TEAMS a US educational innovation strategy which unifies the houses of academia, vocational learning and the arts"

TEAMS - Why robots matter in K-12 Ed, TCEA and CUE 2010

TEAMS - Why games matter in K-12 education, TCEA and CUE 2010

More at

Bob Calder's picture
Bob Calder
Internet and Society

What we have today bears a superficial resemblance to the International Geophysical Year in that our President has called it a resemblance.

First and foremost, the name is important. The "International" part in particular. The international part of our team is at the United Nations and we pay precious little attention to them when they point out to us we aren't having much of a crisis. Second, competition is important. The Soviet satellite Sputnik was in orbit and the U.S. had no equivalent.

Who says the competition is fierce? Are the captains of industry saying it or are the faculty of research institutions saying it? The answer is important because the captains of industry see the universe from the bottom of a furrow.

We have positioned ourselves against the universe. US versus Them. It's fine if you are a company that needs to keep secrets to maintain advantage. It's not good for education because science isn't an us versus them situation. Science is a human enterprise that should and does cross international space.

For precisely these reasons I support FIRST Robotics. It exemplifies the standards I would like to see applied to every corner of the education system.

We (the US academics) have a smaller share of citations than we used to, but I don't see it as cause for alarm. We have moved jobs to countries where employers can gain advantage from lower overhead. But what's the problem really? Our model of governance that includes taxation encourages us to move resources to locations with lower overhead. That's a part that no education can fix. Other countries build manufacturing plants that out-compete ours. That's another part no education can fix.

In short, we have a culture that is handing education yet another list of things to "fix" with no real path to doing so.

Angie's picture

I am beyond excited about an awareness of how the Arts in Math-Science can act as a real catalyst for young children. I work with elementary school children and have been funded to open a Design Innovation Lab at my school. We have had this lab concept in existence for 5 years, but just now, have a name, thanks to Stanford's Hasso Platner Building..housing the Design Innovation Lab for their graduates and serving the silicon valley companies with young innovative minds that think out of the box. Our lab started The Solar Tree Project with Rein Triefeldt and Princeton University ...A startup Solar Company and an architectural firm Santos and Urrutia which draw up many of our scuptural scientific inventions. Our projects usually have a social component with ethical implications. I am SO thrilled so see STEM .....head towards the ARts in Math-Science. Through Science-Math and the Arts...we can design empathetically for social change and innovative solutions that meet real needs.

Bob Calder's picture
Bob Calder
Internet and Society

I think caution is obligatory as we will have to confront people that have conservative opinions regarding the needs expressed by the President's Council (PCAST). We really have to make it obvious we are not waving our hands and blowing smoke. Nobody is going to care what AAAS says about the need for more scientists. It's treated like a union in some humanities circles.

One of the things I would like to see in press is explicit address of the specific things that happen when we describe a project. A science teacher just saying "it's the arts" is no better than an art teacher saying having his kids draw trees and say "look, it's science!" Everything is science, just as everything is art.

It is also a bit dangerous to imply that creativity belongs to the arts. It doesn't. But we CAN say that art teachers are equipped to recognize creative behaviour 9 times out of 10 and will encourage it rather than stifle it, while non-art folks will often look at the messy process and tell the kids to stop it.

What we need to see is explicit recognition that teachers in different disciplines are equipped to recognize and reinforce certain behaviours. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but we need to make absolutely sure the education machine doesn't treat this like the project-based learning middle school failure revealed by the STEM international study group.

Robert Siegel's picture
Robert Siegel
Faculty Oregon State Univ, College of Ed, Masters Program in Ed.

Fantastic how there's more talk about STEAM. A new not-for-profit called Guild of Digital Artists ( is headed in this direction as well (Redmond, WA). Check out their Anatom Project which is still under development. In this case the digital arts are incorporated into human biology for educational purposes.

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