Have you ever heard of STEM and STEAM?
I’m not referring to the branch of a tree or the vapor that water becomes when heated. I’m referring to an educational process that is at the core of all the exhibits and events we create at the Omaha Children’s Museum.
So what’s the difference between STEM and STEAM?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. STEAM adds the Arts to this great list.
STEM learning has a profound impact on our society.
- Sciences are crucial for advancements in medicine.
- Technology and engineering are vital to creating the architecture and products we rely on daily.
- Mathematics can be seen in every part of our economy, from accounting and logarithms to calculus.
Introducing STEM concepts to children at an early age is key to ensuring success later in life. "Students are extremely curious and impressionable, so instilling an interest at an early age could spark a lasting desire to pursue a career in any of these fields." (STEM Education, 2016).
But what about the "A" in "Arts?"
In recent years, STEM learning has expanded to include Art as well. This has created a shift in the importance of Arts and how each of these five elements works together.
Learning about arts and design teaches students to be flexible in their thinking, to take risks and come up with creative solutions to problems. The mind of a scientist or technologist can come up with creative solutions to today’s challenges like healthcare and urban redevelopment.
S-T-E-M with the A includes:
- Sharing knowledge with communication and language arts, “voice” – impact, power, legacy
- A working knowledge of manual and physical arts, including how-to and fitness
- Better understanding past and present cultures and aesthetics through the fine arts
- Rhythmic and emotional use of math, physics, physiology and often language with the musical arts
- Understanding sociological developments, human nature, and ethics with the liberal arts
- (STEAM Education Program Description, 2015)
Since STEAM focuses on all aspects of learning, we at the Omaha Children’s Museum have built STEAM learning objectives into daily programming, special event programming, outreaches, camps, exhibit design, and staff interactions.
Every part of the play that goes on at the museum is designed to help children develop the thinking skills needed to solve STEAM problems! How cool is that?!