STEM education is a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and is a now part of a national educational initiative. For many years, the United States was a global leader in these fields. Unfortunately, every year, fewer American students choose these fields of study. The STEM education focus has a goal of increasing the number of students and teachers in these very important areas of study.
The Rhode Island School of Design has championed a movement to take the STEM focus a step farther. The STEM-to-STEAM education movement would add the important components of Art and design to STEM. This new movement is supported by teachers, students, and business people. It is considered a solid framework for bridging the gap between the goals of the business community and the goals of education.
The STEM-to-STEAM Education Movement is gaining momentum. The importance of adding Art to the mix of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is clear for new start up companies and products. The design aspect of any innovation is the bridge that takes an idea from theoretical and technical to user and consumer friendly. Some of the gains support for STEM-to-STEAM include:
- The STEM-to-STEAM movement has initiated a petition to encourage members of the House of Representatives to support the addition of art and design to the STEM programs that already receive funding.
- In 2013 a Congressional STEAM caucus was formed with it's objective to influence professionals involved in research policy and K to 20 education to utilize art and design.
- In Chicago, the city 2013 Summer of Learning program had a strong STEAM focus.
- The Drew Charter School in Atlanta has a very specific focus on STEM-to-STEAM.
- The Delaware Arts Alliance works to ensure that core educational standards include arts education in all public and charter schools in the state.
- The Wolf Trap Institute of Education is incorporating art with math and with science believing that creativity helps thinking and application of knowledge which leads to innovation.
- The national Network for Sciences, Engineering, Arts & Design (SEAD), is headed by a professor at Texas A&M. SEAD is actively pursuing the integration of art and design in technical education by hosting workshops and developing strategies.
- The National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture considers STEM-to-STEAM education to be one of the biggest movements in education in the last decade.
- World renowned cellist, Yo Yo Ma, speaking on Arts and Public Policy at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. discussed the STEM-to-STEAM movement stating that "STEM without STEAM loses steam, but STEM with STEAM will power our country forward. The qualities crucial to success in the 21st Century workforce will not come just from studying science, technology and engineering and math, as important as those disciplines are."
- Many countries including China and South Korea have already adopted the STEAM movement and have made it a national educational initiative.
As the STEM-to-STEAM movement continues to be championed by the Rhode Island School of Design and many other organizations around the country, it is likely that it will continue to grow and gain in importance in education for Kindergarten through college.
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