What is STEAM, and what is STEAM?
At its most basic, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Alternatively, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. But STEM education is far more than just sticking those subject titles together. It’s a philosophy of education that embraces teaching skills and subjects in a way that resembles real life.
The key component of STEM and STEAM is integration. Instead of teaching disciplines in independent subject silos, lessons are well rounded, project and inquiry based, with a focus on interdisciplinary learning. STEM and STEAM align with the way we work and problem solve in our daily lives. Making it an exceptional way of instructing and learning. With STEM we are teaching skills the way they will be used in the workforce, and the real world. Rarely does a job require only one skill set like math. Picture an architect, they use science, math, engineering and technology to do their jobs. The subjects do not work on their own, instead they are woven together in practical and seamless ways allowing the architect to design complex buildings.
STEM and STEAM are not new, they are simply ways of understanding and applying an integrated form of learning that resembles real life. Instead of teaching math as separate from science, they can be taught together in a way that shows how the knowledge from those two fields compliment and support each other.
The addition of Arts to STEM to create STEAM is about incorporating creative thinking and applied arts in real situations. Art isn’t just about working in a studio. Art is about discovering and creating ingenious ways of problem solving, integrating principles or presenting information. Picture an architect, they use engineering, math, technology, science and arts to create stunning buildings and structures. Many people feel that adding the A is unnecessary and that the application of creativity and arts is a natural part of STEM, but others like to highlight it. For school and pre-school aged children, in particular, we at Tinker Labs like to include the A to ensure that facet of learning doesn’t get forgotten in our lessons.