After years of touting the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics ) educational programs, many teachers are discovering that by adding an “A” –for ART– student learning will pick up STEAM! This latest understanding of how students learn is changing science education by adding Art education back into the mix. This integrated education approach is developing a proven track record and being incorporated into public, private and homeschool education.
At its inception, the STEM bill authorized over 150 million to help students earn a bachelor’s degrees and teaching credentials. It also provided millions in additional money to help align kindergarten through grade 12 math and science curricula to better prepare students for college.
Now years later, people are asking questions like: Why are math and science viewed as standalone modalities? Why have so many schools dropped Arts education from their curriculum?
For too long, we have wrongly believed that Science and Art education were separate disciplines that demanded different teaching methods. However, now we know that Science and Art, as well as Math and Music are intrinsically related!
Educational researchers are recognizing that it is important to integrate all modalities into STEM lessons. By broadly using an integrated education curriculum, students are able to see how science education is important to aspects of everyday life. Integrated education also affords the opportunity for real-world application of the math and science education knowledge.
The use of Art as the glue that bonds these modalities shows students how form and function are guiding principles. Art is not merely illustrative or decorative, but represents an essential part of the process of inquiry, such as problem finding, problem solving, and communication.
The fervor that propels people to excel at mathematics and science education or engineering and art education are driven by the same desire: the desire to discover the intricacies and beauty in one’s world and chosen work. Furthermore, Art is also integrated into technologies such as engineering in the “form and function” debate. Does form follow function or does function follow form? Either way the two are fundamentally linked. Cars are a perfect example: From the Model-T Ford to the latest concept car, we have seen that the evolution of technology is as much about aesthetics (form) of the product as it is about functionality.
Many of the fundamental concepts of form and function are the same. Line, shape, color, structure/function relationships as well as perspective, patterning, and sequencing are the language of art and science education. Students create “an artistic representation of their ideas and solutions is a valuable way to make learning personal. This allows for a clear understanding of the underpinnings of science principles and how these principles can be extrapolated to solve existing problems. It has been proven that students who previously had difficulty in STEM classes are picking up STEAM quickly!