STEAM is a progression of STEM which stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.” STEAM acknowledges the importance of art in education and it appeals to a diverse number of students rather than a few interested in just STEM. STEAM investigates the same scientific topics of STEM but it does so in the inquiry and problem-solving that goes on in the creative process. Adding art in STEM allows for children to access the creative side of their brain and not use just the left brain or right brain but both. As Leonardo da Vinci has said in his support for art in education, “Study the science of art. Study the art of science.” Studying art with STEM provides a well-rounded education for students.
Critics of STEM have felt that adding the “A” in STEAM would distract from learning the core sciences. They fear that the United States is not up to par in comparison to other countries in terms of STEM research and fields. They believe that the addition of art would dilute the focus on STEM. On the contrary, STEAM would not be taking away from the STEM fields but would enhance them. It can potentially attract more students who weren’t otherwise interested in STEM fields because of the addition of the “A” in STEAM.
In an article written by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASSA), researchers have found that students performed better on standardized tests when they were involved in the arts. This is in comparison to those who were less involved in the arts. Studies have shown that STEAM helps students establish meaning in their school work and these students become less bored, participated in more community service activities, and watched less TV during their education.
One important aspect of STEM is that it is project-based. This is an eye-catching element for students learning math and science. Learning from a project allows students to learn math and science. Hand in hand, the project allows the student to build on their experiences. This type of learning sets students up for success because it is “hands-on”. STEAM is about combining the best aspects of the arts and sciences to create the best experience for students.
As the associate dean of Bellarmine’s Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education and long tom science educator has said “Incorporating the A in STEAM—art—brings in personal expression, empathy, meaning-making and the purpose of what you’re learning,” “It’s the humanizing piece of transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary instruction” STEAM is important because the goal of STEAM is to help students develop the critical skills they need so they are well-equipped for the future. This way, they will be well rounded so they can adapt to the evolving and fast-paced environment