In recent years, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) has evolved into a popular acronym: STEAM. The ‘A’ in STEAM stands for Arts, but how do the arts fit into STEM?
History of STEAM
Despite the changed acronym, the study of both the arts and sciences is not a novel concept. Leonardo da Vinci is regarded as a genius of the Renaissance era for his diverse studies spanning disciplines including painting, anatomy, and engineering; his famous Mona Lisa painting and flying machine invention are both important aspects of his legacy. Above all, Da Vinci urged the study of the “art of science” and the “science of art” to develop a complete mind.
Similarly, Ada Lovelace focused her studies on poetry as well as math and science. A gifted mathematician and the daughter of famed poet Lord Byron, Ada is widely considered the writer of the first computer program. In the 1800s, she wrote instructions to a computer program while working on Charles Babbage’s proposed general-purpose computer, known as the Analytical Engine. Ada recognized the connection between computer science and the arts, stating “the Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.”
Benefits of STEAM
By adding the arts into STEM, students learn how to apply creative thinking to real-world situations. STEAM incorporates artistic concepts vital to STEM fields, such as design principles and visual-spatial skills. This multidisciplinary approach to teaching STEM is increasingly becoming important as the fields of STEM and the arts overlap more and more. Technology is now a fundamental component of nearly all industries. Meanwhile, creative thinking skills gained through arts education is necessary for innovation in STEM fields such as medicine, engineering, and robotics. STEAM education gives students the creative thinking skills and flexibility needed to keep up with quickly-evolving careers.
STEAM calls for more full-brain engagement. Traditionally, STEM education utilizes the left brain and focuses on logic, sequence, and linear thinking. STEAM, however, encourages the development of the right brain and nurtures important skills like imagination and creativity. Additionally, the arts component of STEAM gives students an outlet for self-expression and increases their ability to effectively communicate their own ideas.
Summer STEAM Programs
The Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG) programs offer a multidisciplinary curriculum that incorporates STEAM plus humanities and fitness. The SIG STEAM+ Curriculum challenges gifted and talented students to discover creative solutions to real-world problems.
SIG courses like Advanced Scratch™ Programming combine the fields of technology, math, and engineering with art. Students use creative design skills and imagination in computer programming while also utilizing mathematical skills to tackle problems in the code. In Tiny Homes: Huge Impact, students learn how to think like an architect while creating a tiny scale model home and discover the impact of design principles such as scale, proportion, and balance on construction.