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Volume 31, Number 2
March/April 2015

STEAM Not Stickers

Creating a meaningful role for the arts in STEM learning


Are American schools adequately preparing students with the skills and experiences needed to become global leaders tomorrow? In recent years, this central question has motivated a renewed interest in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, with policy makers looking to STEM education in K–12 schools as necessary to drive the next wave of economic development in the United States. Despite national support for STEM education, there are many who view the arts and arts-based approaches to learning (which are often cited as instrumental in fostering creativity) as essential for bringing an aspect of innovation to STEM education. Referred to as STEAM, the trend toward infusing the STEM disciplines with the arts has been gaining momentum for nearly a decade and has ushered in a new enthusiasm for the arts in schools.

But how easy is it to combine the arts with STEM subjects? And how well is it being done?

The answers to these questions are critical in determining whether STEAM education will provide authentic arts learning experiences for young people, or whether the arts will be glossed over as educators privilege STEM subjects. One way to explore these questions is to examine the role of the arts in STEAM projects that are available to educators and students.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


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    For Further Information


    Maker Education Initiative:

    Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show:

    K. Wilkinson and M. Petrich. The Art of Tinkering. San Francisco: Weldon Owen, 2014.