S.T.E.A.M. – What’s it all About?
is learning that focuses on science,technology,engineering, the Arts, and mathematics. The Rio School District is working to imbue STEAM learning in all our 8 schools in a variety of ways. In addition, we are in the planning process for constructing a new K-8 STEAM school that will combine architecture, curriculum, and instruction in innovative ways.
I could go on and on about the benefits of STEAM learning and STEAM schools, however, I thought It would useful to provide some basic ideas to respond to the question; Why STEAM?
S……. Science learning in the past has often been de-contextualized and relegated to text book work. We think Science learning needs to include doing science, learning the history of science, developing an Inquiry Lens for life, and learning to use scientific perspectives for life-long problem solving.
T……. Technology attracts and engages learners. It can provide rich and speedy feedback. It too needs to be contextualized and “historicalized.” It needs to be put into the service of problem solving at local and global levels. It needs to break down institutional barriers to learning. It needs to empower learners. It needs to take into consideration the story of the Luddites.
E……. Engineering is a great and under-exposed field for young learners. It helps solve problems. It’s all about design, form, and function. Its about the applied use of math/science, design, and technology which addresses the relevance of learning.
A……. Arts are about being human. We need to allow and teach learners to create art. Art leads to other things. Art separates man from beast. Art is often under-taught and usually includes the misconception that to be good at the arts it is all about what talent you are born with rather than what you learn and how hard you work. The same is true for mathematics.
M…… Mathematics is rarely taught in context. Math needs to be taught in ways that make it real to learners. Learners need to see math in action. They need to see the beauty and creativity in math work. They need to develop the right balance of procedural and conceptual understanding. All of these math learning opportunities are availed in STEAM learning. STEAM learning can engage the math learner in their development as speakers of the universal language of math which is perhaps, the universal language of the universe or at least, the human mind.