I was at Target the other day and noticed that back to school shopping is already upon us! Umm, can someone please tell me where summer went? While you are at it, can you please inform me what happened to 2018? Seriously! Didn’t summer JUST start? Okay, now that my rant is over, it leads me to ask you this. If you are a parent, is your child attending a school that has a STEM or STEAM-based curriculum? If you are an educator, do you implement these facets into your teaching?
What is STEM? What is STEAM? Have you heard these acronyms floating about through conversations? Perhaps you have heard them here, on this blog site, on my website, or on my Facebook and Instagram pages. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.
STEAM is a way to take the benefits of STEM and complete the package by integrating these principles in and through the arts. STEAM takes STEM to the next level: it allows students to connect their learning in these critical areas together with art practices, elements, design principles, and standards to provide the whole pallet of learning at their disposal. STEAM removes limitations and replaces them with wonder, critique, inquiry, and innovation.
The importance of STEM and STEAM education
According to a report by the website STEMconnector.org, by 2018, projections estimate the need for 8.65 million workers in STEM-related jobs. The manufacturing sector faces an alarmingly massive shortage of employees with the necessary skills — nearly 600,000. The field of cloud computing alone will have created 1.7 million jobs between 2011 and 2015, according to the report. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2018, the bulk of STEM careers will be:
- Computing – 71 percent
- Traditional Engineering – 16 percent
- Physical sciences – 7 percent
- Life sciences – 4 percent
- Mathematics – 2 percent
These statistics are astounding! I had no idea how much of a shortage there was in these fields. Don’t allow this to intimidate you and think you have to go to a four-year college and spend thousands of dollars on a degree. STEM jobs do not all require higher education or even a college degree. Less than half of entry-level STEM jobs require a bachelor’s degree or higher. You can attain most (if not all) of what you need by attending a trade school, or even community college. I’m a considerable advocate for trade and community college, mostly because I went to one and received great hands-on training.
- STEAM is an integrated approach to learning which requires an intentional connection between standards, assessments and lesson design/implementation
- True STEAM experiences involve two or more standards from Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and the Arts to be taught AND assessed in and through each other
- Inquiry, collaboration, and an emphasis on process-based learning are at the heart of the STEAM approach
- Utilizing and leveraging the integrity of the arts themselves is essential to an authentic STEAM initiative
- Seamless lesson implementation processes and strategies
The Heart of STEM and STEAM Education
Growing up, I attended STEM schools before they were labeled as a “STEM School.” I have had the privilege of observing first hand and discussing with teachers and district officials how these two curriculums are adapted into the schools. STEM and STEAM’s foundations lie in inquiry, critical thinking, and process-based learning. That is extremely important. The entire idea surrounding these lessons and the approach is that it’s based around questioning. Questions that require more than turning to google for the answers. Looking back, I can see how both of the elementary and high schools I attended had these values at their core. I am forever grateful for the STEM and STEAM-based education I received.
Inquiry, curiosity, being able to find solutions to a problem, and being creative in the finding of the answers is at the heart of this approach. STEM and STEAM are EVERYWHERE in life! From the building you are sitting in, or the way you are reading this blog required both the elements of STEM and the artistic side to pull it all together and make it functional.
Supporting STEM and STEAM
Because STEAM is in every part of daily life, it is so vital for our children to engage in STEAM-education. A topic of such importance demands a prominent place in our education system in the broadest sense—from the classroom to the after-school setting, to the home. Science literacy is as essential as reading, writing, and art for all people. That is why I started writing the Little Katie series, to help encourage girls (and boys!) to look into these fields at a young age. To not be afraid of them. Instead, to learn about them and become excited about them.
To help further my support of both the STEM and STEAM fields and my love of literacy, I will be giving away signed copies of both of my Little Katie Books! Little Katie Explores the Coral Reefs will be released on July 30th, 2018. I will be holding a book launch party on August 1st, 2018 to celebrate! Visit, Facebook.com/authorcarmeladutra and check out my pinned post to learn more!