In the field of education, ‘STEAM’ has recently become all the rage. But many educational practitioners are still unsure what this acronym really means. Is STEAM education actually different from STEM education? How is this educational concept translated into classroom teaching? And what difference can it make in students’ lives?
‘STEAM’ stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics. While students have traditionally studied STEM subjects in school, many educators began to think about how students might apply these science and math skills in new and inventive ways to solve real-world problems. Knowing how to ace a math test is an important skill in itself, but being able to apply these math skills creatively to solve real world problems is where STEAM education can benefit students.
If a student is tasked with building a model hydrogen-powered car, for example, they would need to use math and engineering skills from traditional classroom teaching, but must apply these to solve a real world problem. In order to make the hydrogen car work the students would have to come up with new and creative ways to deploy their technical knowledge to complete the task.
This STEAM approach to education therefore not only encourages teamwork and social skills among students, but fosters a sense of creativity and innovation - skills in great demand by employers. The grade-A student who is a master of tests and exams may have the math skills needed to complete a task, but a more creative and arts-centric student may prove an indispensable member of the team in identifying innovative solutions to the problem.
Students find this method of learning wildly fun. Classrooms are all-too-often 'static' environments where students can lose interest, with the teacher often left frustrated by a lack of engagement. With a STEAM approach, classrooms can easily transform more dynamic, interactive and energetic spaces where students become more motivated and begin to genuinely enjoy themselves.
Not only do students experience fun and enjoyment from STEAM education, but this educational approach also prepares them for a future career. Whether this is in the renewable energy and hydrogen sector, the automotive industry or even life as a future coder – students gain vital skills in critical thinking and teamwork which employers greatly value.