George Lucas Educational Foundation

STEM is now STEAM?

STEM is now STEAM?

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I'm told STEM is now STEAM (A for the Arts). I wonder how this came about. Any thoughts on how this will shift the focus?

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Darea Winters's picture

In response to MINDY::::Those things, communication, language, and literacy are all part of it as well. Like you said, you can't do much else if you can't read. Everything should be taught cross curricularly anyway so naturally you would find these things embedded within STEAM. In my opinion, the arts aspect of STEAM should not just include the visual arts, but also the performing arts and language arts both of which include all that you were just talking about. Kids need STEAM and it can be done as early as kindergarten, maybe even sooner. Kids need to to learn to be problem solvers in our world, especially with the way things are going these days. STEAM does that. DOne right, you can address some real world, pressing issues with kids and then they actually learn how to go about changing the worldin a positive, realistic way. Sorry...I feel very strongly about this.

Mindy Keller- Kyriakides's picture
Mindy Keller- Kyriakides
High school english teacher and blogger.

I agree Darea! The arts curricula should include performing arts (<--Theatre educator, here!). Maybe it's the packaging of this acronym that bugs me. Other than the fact that it's nifty and memorable, if literacy were included in it (or reading--hah: STEAMR), what we'd have is a very nice acronym for an all-inclusive curriculum. Thus, any focus for a movement is lost in the inclusions.

I guess it's just a helpful mnemonic. In those classes that are not Math or Engineering or Science,specifically, we should still make sure that, somehow, the *type* of thinking used in SEM is addressed and the type of thinking of A and R, and the tools of T. That can be done in a Theatre Arts classroom, so I'm guessing it can be done in Language arts and others, too. : )

David Ellis's picture
David Ellis
Technology Education University Lecturer from Australia

STEM or STEAM.....or let's open the doors to all disciplines. I personally think the reason why STEM has gained traction is that we are beginning to realise that the educational model of silo-ing disciplines isn't working that well. As a result, models of transdisciplinary education like STEM are more contextualised and makes knowledge more significant.

A word of caution for all of us to be aware that if we offer STEM or STEAM models of education, then we need to ensure that all of these disciplines are integrated otherwise we ill suffer from 'curriculum skew'. An example of this is when you look into a number of STEM initiatives, they only really offer the SCIENCE strand and don't link this to the other disciplines. This concerns me because I see science as science and STEM as a integrated model...I guess a cause for watching this space.

Mario Patiño's picture
Mario Patiño
NBCT, science educator

I don't know where I read, but from what I understand the idea behind the A in STEAM was to promote creativity, innovation, intellectually risk taking not associated with traditional STEM programs. I'm not sure if this is true. I was also read in article in Fortune addressing the idea that creativity cannot be taught. So what do we do as educators to promote this valuable skill?

Marshall Barnes's picture
Marshall Barnes
Founder, Director of SuperScience for High School Physics

Dear Mario:

I would sure like to know where you read in Fortune that creativity can't be taught. As arguably one of the most creative individuals around, I teach creativity, and I'm preparing seminars on that subject for corporations and Chief Innovation Officers. I dare say that if anyone says that creativity can't be taught, they know little or nothing about true creativity...

Mario Patiño's picture
Mario Patiño
NBCT, science educator

I'll find the article...soon, its in my stack at home. I can't say I teach creativity directly but create environments where students must use creativity and ingenuity to solve the problem. So can it be taught? I'm not sure. I would fear biasing the "creativity" process if I had to teach the process. I'll look for that article.....

Bob Charles's picture
Bob Charles
I am in search of definitions for "Quality Eduction" and "Great School".

The product of the creative process is a novel thought. The thought may just be novel to the individual.

Of course the creative process can be taught at any age. Can the brain be rewired during that training to make it as better at creative thinking? ... the earlier the better: 2 to 5 years old and drops off as people age.

Before creative thinking, is critical thinking: Recognizing a problem and defining it. Then acquiring knowledge and using creative thinking to apply knowledge to solving the problem. Critical thinking also makes predictions based on models etc...

Creative thinking uses divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking is fun (I love to lead a braining storming in class). Convergent thinking also has a lot of fun tools available. Many people come up with the same novel idea which leads to a group's novel idea. Putting the pieces of the solution puzzle together and testing it produces a product and that is an accomplishment!

The subject doesn't matter; creativity education is essential. BTW - USA TTCT (Torrance) scores have fallen since 1990

SEMATIC Science, Engineering, Math, Arts, Technology and Individual Creativity

John Edelson's picture
John Edelson
Founder of and

I could not be more surprised by the merging of art and creativity inot the STEM agenda. At first it seemed so counter-intuitive that I thought it was just a weird political alliance.

However, having heard the pitch made at a few conferences, I'm now a believer although I'm still not able to articulate the rationale and logic for the merging of the efforts. Somehow, it unifies developing a broader understanding of how we understand, perceive, and interact with our world.

Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

1.Modern Automata Museum in Italy - youtube video

2.CLOHE-Automata Tablet by Modern Automata Museum - youtube video: Constructing
your first cardboard automata mechanism tool box

3.Making a simple automata box and gear mechanism toy - youtube video

4.Cabaret Mechanical Theater - London and worldwide links
Including the best automata blog, by maker Dug North

5.Jouet Rustique -an inspirational blog by a teacher artist in France, Daniel Descomps
emphasizing the natural environment for sources of handmade toys

6.Aquio Nishida was the Director of the Japan Museum of Contemporary Toys
and had his work displayed in a German Museum exhibition at this link:

7.The beautifully photographed comprehensive automata book in English is by
Rodney Peppe: Automata and Mechanical Toys, available online.


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