In the last five years STEM and now STEAM education have become common buzzwords in educational discourse, the staffroom, and even boardrooms. But what is it, and what does it mean for your practice?
Read more to learn about:
• What are STEM & STEAM Education and why are they getting so much attention.
• Suggestions for implementing STEM & STEAM in your own practice.
• Learn More…
What is STEAM Education?
STEAM eduction is an approch to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, The Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking.
Why is STEM/STEAM Education getting so much attention?
Government leaders love STEAM because they see it as a way to maintain competitive edge in the world economy: STEM fields are expected by many to be the fastest growing fields in the years to come.
Educators love it because the approach is highly engaging to students, increases motivation, and in turn improves achievement. STEAM has proven to be a promising approach to positively impacting student achievement and teacher efficacy. In a 2016 study, researchers investigated the impact of STEAM lessons on physical science learning in grades 3 to 5 in high poverty elementary schools in an urban district. Findings indicated that students who received just nine hours of STEAM instruction made improvements in their science achievement.
We love it for it’s emphasis on Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Asking Questions, Making Observations, and Analyzing Data. Plus, you know, it’s fun!
Using STEAM education results in students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century!”
How can I start implementing STEAM Education in my practice?
Brining STEAM into your practice doesn’t have to be hard work for you. In fact, often it just means stepping back and letting kids do what they do naturally: try to understand how the world works. Jeffry Bloom encourages teachers to cultivate a sense of excitement for exploring and inquiring about our world, and for generating and testing possible explanations.
STEAM Activities generally have these characteristics:
Focus on real world issues and problems.
Follow the Engineering Design Process.
Apply arts in real situations.
Immerse students in hands on inquiry.
Promote open ended exploration.
Involve students in productive teamwork.
Apply rigorous math and science content.
Allow for multiple right answers.
DON’T GET OVERWHELMED
Chelle Hendershot suggests you start by taking a look at the things you are currently teaching, and then shift your lens a little bit. Ask yourself which lessons could be presented as a problem or question. Think about ways you might be able to group your science, math, social studies, and reading blocks into a bundle that revolves around a problem that kids can research and solve. Kids are curious and problem solvers by nature, so it is really fun to tap into that.
There are a number of easy activities you can try on our Resources page. Make it Fly doesn’t take much time, can be used with materials you already have in your classroom, and is a great chance to practice using open-ended questions (we have a FREE download all ready for you!)
KEEP IN MIND
• Many STEAM activities can be done using materials available in most schools and out-of-school programs.
• STEAM is about discovery. It’s about curiosity. It’s about opening our eyes to the world around us and seeing it in a new and exciting light.
• STEAM should incorporate students’ everyday knowledge, expertise and practices.
• Keep equity at the center of all your planning – make sure women and marginalized groups are represented and that teaching methods reflect the needs and experiences of all your students.
• Fun is what makes STEAM real. Without imaginative experimentation and the freedom to try, fail, and try again, science is just a set of known facts (and we all know that’s no fun).
OUR KITE KITS ARE AN EASY WAY TO INTRODUCE STEAM INTO YOUR PRACTICE
A short Kiting Activity or longer Unit of Study using our Kite Kits are both powerful opportunities for students to engage actively with STEAM concepts and processes.
They are an easy way for teachers new to STEAM teaching to start, and provide endless opportunities for exploration for teachers with higher comfort level planning STEAM lessons or longer units.
They are also learning creativity, collaboration and problem-solving, and how to ask questions, make observations, analyze data and communicate their findings. These are real-world life and workplace skills that are necessary no matter what path is followed.
Check out our RESOURCES page for our FREE STEAM: Engineering Design Process curriculum.
OUR HANDS-ON KITE KITS NATURALLY ENGAGE STUDENTS WITH THE ENGINEERING DESIGN PROCESS, WHICH IS AT THE HEART OF STEM LEARNING
Download our FREE Kites in the Classroom STEAM Guidebook for more suggestions on how to use our Kite Kits – whether you are trying a STEAM activity for the first time, or developing an entire unit – under IDEAS — Resources.
“This practical book will help readers understand what STEAM is, how it differs from STEM, and how it can be used to engage students in K–8 classrooms.”
The Engineering Design Project Guide by Science Buddies has lots of information and ready to use handouts.
This podcast on STEM Everyday featuring guest Bonnie Kirkley is focused on brain science and STEM learning. STEM Everyday #214
Also check out our blog post “How to get your students engaged & motivated to learn: The brain and learning”.
Start with an easy activity from this list:
77 STEM activities for Families
Balance the Forces Within a Mobile from Science Buddies is a good first activity for most ages.
Start collecting material from this great article for your STEAM activities.
Invite STEAM guests into your classroom to talk about the work they do.