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Why is STEAM so Important? Since 1990, employment in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) occupations has grown 79%, easily outpacing overall U.S job growth. And although we can’t know what our economic future will look like, one thing we can count on is that the workforce of tomorrow is tied to proficiency in STEAM fields.
For as far back as we can remember in education, setting students up for future success has always been the goal. However, with technology constantly advancing, shifting the dynamics of the 21st-century workforce, many argue that student readiness is not what it used to be. This is why, now more than ever, it’s imperative to facilitate learning environments that are fluid, relevant and dynamic — all things at the heart of STEAM education. Not only does STEAM teach students how to think critically, but it encourages problem-solving using creativity. Something that has been lost in STEM education.
Although STEAM continues to grow, opponents still argue that adding in the arts takes away from STEM education. However, according to AllEducationSchools, “STEAM aims to strengthen the foundation of STEM by helping students enhance their critical thinking skills and recognize the intersection of art, science, technology, engineering, and math.” That’s why many educators across the U.S are now integrating STEAM and teaching 21st-Century Skills as part of their learning environment.
Building a new STEAM program can be exciting and thrilling. However, starting from scratch can also be intimidating and overwhelming if you have no idea what to do. That’s why we’re here. As you begin planning your STEAM program, here are a few recommendations to help you along the way.
Building your STEAM program doesn’t need to be expensive. It just requires some creativity and dedication as you look for ways to bring your STEAM program to life. Whether you’ve got funding from your school or you’re building a program on your own, one thing to remember is that there’s money all around — you just need to look for it! Grants are a great way to secure the funding you need, but they do require a bit of work on your end. Thankfully, we’ve got some great resources available. From webinars to checklists, it’s exactly what you need to secure the funding necessary to tackling those STEAM dreams.
A great STEAM program starts with a space for making, a place focused on unfiltered creation and discovery, often referred to as makerspace. Typically, the term “makerspace” can be heard in conjunction with “STEAM” because makerspaces allow students to explore diverse subject areas through hands-on learning that is fun and engaging. Having a space that is conducive to experimentation, design, investigation and adventure help students become more proficient in problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration and questioning. Think about where you want your STEAM program to live. What tools and equipment are readily available in your surroundings? Is there a space that can be utilized or transformed for your learner’s benefit? Take the time to re-familiarize yourself with your environment — you may be surprised at what’s actually available at your fingertips!
Investigate what you need for your STEAM program and seek out those who can help. As you continue to set the foundation for your program, it’s important to take a look at your current resources. One crucial tool you’ll want to have in your “teacher toolbox” is a list of local businesses, organizations and vendors within your community. Having this information and building those relationships can help you in more ways than you think. They may not necessarily have money to donate, but they may have extra inventory or resources that they can give. For example, your local hardware store may be able to donate the pallets they have lying around that your students can use to reconstruct Famous Architecture Around the World.
Get creative with resource allocation and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
The last thing to consider when planning your STEAM program is the curriculum. To figure out exactly what it is your program will cover, consider the following questions: what am I interested in, and what are the interests of my students? Do I want to develop my own curriculum? Or are there options available to me that can easily be implemented? Because STEAM is so versatile, covering a range of subjects and topics, understanding the answers to these questions can help you decide what your curriculum can look like.
Remember, STEAM isn’t about adding an art element to your science project or engineering build. It’s about building an intentional connection between subjects through standards, assessment and lesson design. Through hands-on, inquiry-based learning, students are able to develop solutions to key questions or problems and visualize how the subjects are connected.
Whether you’ve got everything planned or you’re just starting out, we’re here if you need us! Remember, a great STEAM program takes time, dedication, thoughtful planning and insight. If you need additional resources or tools or just someone to talk to, our STEMbassadors are always available!
Tune into our 2020 STEAM Buying Guide Webinar, where our expert panel of educators and specialists discuss how STEAM has made a difference in their learning environments, how they select quality curriculum and more! Head over to our webinar page to learn more.
Fry R., Funk C., Graf N. (2018). 7 facts about the STEM workforce. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/01/09/7-facts-about-the-stem-workforce/
Jakubowski, L. How to Build a STE(A)M Curriculum. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.teq.com/news/how-to-build-a-steam-curriculum/
Mace, N. Characteristics of a Great STEAM Program. (2018). Retrieved from https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/characteristics-great-steam-program/
Michael, R. Out-of-the-Box STEM Funding. Retrieved from https://edventures.com/blogs/stempower/out-of-the-box-stem-funding
Resources for Current & Future STEAM Educators. Retrieved from https://www.alleducationschools.com/resources/steam-education/
TeachThought Staff. (2019). 4 Tips for Planning A STEAM Program in Your School. Retrieved from https://www.teachthought.com/technology/steps-for-planning-a-steam-program-in-your-school-classroom/
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