Why is a STEAM framework important in 21st century schools?
The government has invested heavily into STEM with industry recognising the value of STEAM integrated learning. STEM represents science, technology, engineering and maths. Whereas, “STEAM” represents STEM plus the arts – humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media. At Maria Regina Catholic School, STEAM is providing all students a unique opportunity to develop their 21st century skills, knowledge and competencies.
The difference between STEAM and STEM is that STEM explicitly focuses on scientific concepts. STEAM investigates the same concepts, but does this through inquiry and problem-based learning methods used in the creative process. Students are provided with provocations and opportunities to work in small groups and/or individually on authentic sustainable projects designed to meet multiple curriculum outcomes while stimulating the learners’ curiosity, imagination, creativity towards innovation.
STEAM’s integrated learning program takes students across key learning areas in the curriculum emphasising processes of becoming scientists, technological entrepreneurs, artists and designers or mathematicians. Drawing on established theories supported by experiences through the Arts, STEAM classes create new synergies that challenge previous assumptions shifting towards future thinking.
STEAM classes look like groups of learners working collaboratively to create meaningful visually appealing artefacts or products based in the understanding of STEM scientific concepts and the realisation that we can all make a difference in our world.
Read more about the STEAM approach in our Conversation article: What’s the difference between stem and steam?
When teachers design STEAM projects, they need to leverage a backward design framework and begin with the end in mind. Here are some planning questions:
- How will students engage in real-world, authentic sustainable problem solving/ problem finding?
- What three or more disciplines will be targeted and assessed?
- How will students communicate their learning through different multiple intelligences?
- What are the interests of the students and how can they collaboratively work in teams?
- What products will students need to learn to demonstrate their mastery of the content standards?