I switched schools this year to take a new position both for me and for the school. Initially, the position was to be a STEM Integrator, but one walk though our vibrant lower school made it apparent that the arts held a prominent place. Within minutes, I had redefined my role to be a STEAM Integrator, then made the case to administrators, who readily agreed.
Why STEAM? Think about this: Meaningful patterns. Artists create them; Scientists discover them.
That was my tweet after doing some research into the “why” behind including the arts in a STEM initiative. The arts help us to communicate and share ideas; we use the arts to explain and reflect our culture. How can it be possible to push forward with science, technology, engineering and math without the inclusion of the arts to made sense of it all. Consider all the data that is generated from myriad sources. Art helps to make sense of that data in what is known as data visualization. Jer Thorp is an expert at taking data and turning it into something more useful. He aims to use “art as an axis to bring those two things [Science and design] together.“
The goal of the country’s focus on STEM is to bring more young people into the STEM fields in order to help us remain economically competitive in the global community. A large dose of innovation is a necessary component to remaining competitive. Innovation needs creativity, regardless of the field. Federal and state representatives in Oregon have stated “we should be gathering steam for arts education“.
Creativity drives success in today’s technology market. Design has become as important to high-tech achievement as fundamental engineering. [Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Chris Harker]
Indeed, it is “artists and designers [who] bring STEM to life“, as noted by Jon Kamen and John Maeda in their article STEM to STEAM: Art Is Key to Building a Strong Economy. They go on to state that “creativity will always be America’s secret sauce“.
When the arts and sciences mesh, our society is the richer for the blend. Steven Ross Pomeroy, in his Scientific American guest post From STEM to STEAM: Science and Art Go Hand-in-Hand, notes these innovations – camouflage, the pacemaker, medical stents, airbag technology – that were developed or spurred by artists. Pomeroy paraphrased psychologist Jerome Kagan:
…the arts contribute amazingly well to learning because they regularly combine the three major tools that the mind uses to acquire, store, and communicate knowledge: motor skills, perceptual representation, and language.
The Washington Post recently shared Lisa Phillips’s blog post the Top 10 skills children learn from the arts. The very first skill she notes is creativity.
Why STEAM? The arts feed creativity. Creativity spurs innovation. Innovation fuels science, engineering, technology and applications of math.
[The author of this post is Laurie Bartels.]