A focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education is widely recognized as imperative for preparing 21st century workers who will need a variety of skills working in tandem. Beyond the academics those letters represent, children engaged in STEM studies are gaining essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration and innovation.
In addition, integrating the arts with the other academic subjects (STEAM) is not a new concept; mathematics and art have a long relationship. Visual artists from Leonardo da Vinci to M.C. Escher used mathematical ideas in their works utilizing proportions based on the golden ratio and through the use of tessellation and hyperbolic geometry. Adding art to STEM education can only continue to motivate and create more well-rounded students.
Consider these compelling points for incorporating STEM/STEAM into your mathematics curriculum:
- Diverse Learning Opportunities: Incorporating science, technology, engineering, and art can be a phenomenal catalyst for any student, especially for those whose strengths are bypassed in more traditional educational approaches to math. STEM/STEAM education allows teachers to create more diverse learning opportunities and increase the potential for academic success in all types of learners.
- Broader Skills: STEAM education is based on the idea that art can be approached as an applied subject just like math or science. Students who are integrating aesthetic elements into their STEM project designs are developing and honing skills that will widen their career opportunities in a world that values appearance and consumer appeal as well as functionality.
- Emphasis on Teamwork: One of the cornerstones of a successful STEAM program is an emphasis on teamwork, communication and collaboration in a project environment.
- Holistic Education: Today’s technology-focused world only reinforces the need to integrate these areas into mathematics education. Schools have a responsibility to educate the whole child and graduate global citizens who are prepared to contribute the full spectrum of their gifts, talents, and self-expression.Bringing STEM and/or STEAM projects into your curriculum may be one of the most critical keys in creating the ultimate 21st century classroom experience where students of all ages and learning types are engaged, motivated and actively interested. Subject lines will all but disappear in these classrooms because the goals are meaningful application, real-world experience, content integration and opportunities to fail and try again in safe and supportive environments.