Teachers are always looking for new ways to challenge their students. Whether it’s a math teacher in Australia or music instructor in Alaska – it’s the role of an educator to push students’ boundaries, preparing them for a constantly changing world where flexible, lateral thinking is more valued than ever.
While many teachers have heard of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), STEAM education is currently gaining ground. Combining STEM education with the arts, this STEAM approach builds on students’ mathematics and science skills, but challenges them to innovate and think critically to solve real-world problems. While a grade-A student may be fantastic at acing exams, a STEAM approach enables them to apply these skills in inventive and creative ways to tackle real-world challenges.
Deploying engineering and mathematics skills to build a model hydrogen-powered car, for example, is a scenario in which students must use the math, engineering and technology skills they have learned in the classroom to solve a real-world problem. When faced with the prospect of making the hydrogen car run, students must come up with new, inventive and creative ways to deploy their technical knowledge to overcome the variety of challenges associated with the task.
This STEAM approach not only fosters a sense of creativity and innovation in the next generation of leaders, but encourages teamwork and social skills. The grade-A student who is a master of tests and exams may have the mathematics and science knowledge needed for a task, but a more creative and arts-based student may prove an indispensable member of the team in identifying innovative solutions to these real-world problems.
Students find this way of learning extremely fun. Classrooms liven up, students become more engaged and even teachers can be surprised with how students find new ways to tackle old problems. This is one way teachers can transform their classroom from a ‘static’ environment to a more dynamic, exciting and inspiring place where the focus is shifted from the teacher onto the pupils.
Renewable energy education is just one area where a STEAM approach can be help students learn. Graphic design, fashion, architecture, video game design or urban planning are all fields where technical skills must be utilized in inventive and creative ways in order to be successful.