The sciences have found their rightful place as a top educational focus. Here’s why the arts belong on the same level.
What is STEAM?
The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is leading the movement to include art and design within science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula — thereby transforming STEM into STEAM — in K-12 and higher education, as well as in corporate environments. Followers contend that an education that prioritizes the arts helps students become more adaptable and aware of the intersection between various disciplines. The practice of arts education is unique, after all, in its focus on experimentation and problem-solving rather than correct answers, and the potential it holds to help students strengthen their creative muscles. This TEDxTalk explores how interdisciplinary learning enhances the educational experience.
Why does STEAM matter?
Not only is STEAM education beneficial to students’ well-being, it can also give them a competitive edge when it comes to future employment. More than ever, employees are asked to be more than just scientists, engineers, or mathematicians. Instead, employers are looking for complex, entrepreneurial, creative problem-solvers. By making the transition from STEM to STEAM, teacher leaders can help students become more prepared for the challenges of 21st century innovation.
And then there’s this: A study done by Missouri Public Schools found a correlation between increased arts education and fewer disciplinary cases.
How can I use STEAM in my classroom?
You don’t have to abandon your STEM curriculum to incorporate arts education. These free lesson plans can help you work it in without having to start from scratch.
Need a low-risk lesson to test with your students? This lesson from PBS asks students to plot points on a line while creating op-art designs.
Blend technology and art
Incorporate art and design into regular classroom learning, and you might see your students having more fun than with STEM alone. This free lesson plan from PBS Learning Media allows students to choose a favorite character to animate, turning a computer technology lesson into a dynamic art project.
Encourage hands-on learning
One of the most engaging aspects of arts education is that it allows students to solve problems in a hands-on way. Try this lesson idea in which students turn the classroom into an archeological dig site, allowing them to work through challenges using new methods and unleashing their creative abilities in the process.
Get creative with your math lesson
Consider how you might be able to teach math during an art lesson, or vice versa. These sample lesson plans provide a number of ways in which math appears in art throughout history, including in Egyptian symbols, works from the Renaissance, and more. Or give students the opportunity to learn weaving techniques to demonstrate mathematical patterns.