STEAM has been a major focus in education for years. According to data from the ACT, 45% of 2018 high school graduates intended to pursue STEM majors in college. As schools start implementing new STEM tools and curriculum to better prepare students for the modern world, they face a new challenge─ how can STEM apply to subjects that aren’t Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math?
As it turns out, the lessons learned in STEM/STEAM classes can easily be applied to all aspects of learning. Microsoft 365 Global Education Hero Michael Gorman explains “the action found in the STEM process can allow students to practice and develop the ability to problem solve, authentically learn, think in critical ways, invent, produce, persevere, collaborate, empathize, and design. In doing so, the nouns of STEM work with the important acts of doing and thought”.
With only 20% of students meeting the ACT STEM Readiness Benchmarks, it’s clear students still need more practice and exposure to STEAM-based learning. Implementing aspects of STEAM across all subjects exposes students to new ways of thinking and helps them build a framework for success in life beyond the classroom.
Encouraging STEM learning and culture across subjects may seem difficult at first, but as Gorman explains in a later article, it doesn’t have to be. By encouraging students to ask questions and engage with lessons in new ways, introducing hands-on activities followed by metacognition, and finding room for creativity and student voice in curriculum, teachers can incorporate elements of STEM into any subject.
Educators can also work together across disciplines to create units that show students the “the bigger picture”. Katie Lopez, visual arts coordinator at The Village School explains “One lesson, in particular, that I enjoy teaching is the study of an artist named Alexis Arnold. Arnold uses science to crystallize library books, permanently immortalizing classic literature. Another collaboration I’ve developed is with the chemistry teacher to teach proper safety procedures with the chemicals, and the study of the chemical change through super saturated solutions. I also join with the English Department to align with their literature unit on the Holocaust. In this way, students explore how art, science, and literature can all interconnect with one another to form a bigger, broader understanding of how what they learn separately in all of their classes come together to form the whole student learning experience.”
While not all students will enter a STEM-based career, the basic skills taught through STEM curriculum can apply to all aspects of life and learning. Whether it’s in the classroom or beyond, teaching students the basics of STEM across disciplines makes them better problem solvers and creative thinkers.