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How STEAM transforms Student Thinking - And Why that Matters

What if you could help equip today’s students with the skills they need to assess a claim and determine whether or not it is reasonable?

According to Shirley Malcolm, Director of Education and Human Resources Programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, that’s exactly what a STEM education does: it empowers students to become “savvy about science.”

The STEAM Difference

Don't kids already take math, science, and computer classes in school? Yes. But those subjects are taught in isolation, often delivered via lecture and isolated worksheet-based practices, which looks nothing like the professional world today.

A STEAM-based education requires students to apply information across disciplines, using technology and engineering to think about – and solve – a problem. The bottom line is problem-solving instead of landing on the right answer, and problem-solving requires critical-thinking skills and innovation. Opportunities to innovate, Amy Brown, a K-12 strategist, says aren’t presented by a teacher standing in front of the class.

Although this kind of learning is arguably more engaging, it’s also essential. Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun writes in his book Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence “When the economy changes, so must education.” The economy most certainly has changed. Automation has rendered entire sectors obsolete. Shelley Peterson, Lockheed Martin’s Head of Emerging Technologies estimated after preliminary testing of new augmented reality technology it would enable a 90% reduction in labor – and that’s just one example.

STEAM learning develops applicable skills for students, like teamwork, verbal communication, creative thinking, critical thinking, and a broad appreciation for lifelong learning.

Earning an ‘A’

If technology is dominating the working world (and really, our personal lives, too), what does the ‘A,’ which can include fine arts and liberal arts, have to do with anything? Perhaps surprisingly, the creativity and concepts expressed in the arts can actually impact a student’s brain, concurrently forcing interaction between the frontal lobe and the temporal lobe and releasing dopamine. These newly forged neural pathways are reinforced when they are used, ultimately helping students to make a habit of creative thinking.

The creativity and concepts in the arts can impact a student’s brain. It promotes high-process thinking that teaches students to think critically and solve problems- life skills that are not directly taught but learned through intertwined concepts and hands-on learning.

Carrie Maslen, consultant and former vice president of sales operations for Samsung Electronics America, says STEAM’s value is in helping cultivate creative leadership skills in students and enhancing the way the communication, which complements the harder, methodological skills they glean from STEM.

Full STEAM Ahead

The way we teach our students today will have a dramatic impact on their lives tomorrow. Many of the jobs in the highest demands – and commanding the highest salaries – are STEAM jobs, according to Make Block.

Software engineers and data scientists probably come to mind first, but industries like interior design and hospitality also leverage STEAM.

For many students, knowing they want to have a STEAM career is a whole lot different from understanding how to achieve that goal.

Students can learn anything, thanks to the information age. But students don’t always understand what is “possible, available and attainable,” according to STEAM Role, a role model-based social network where students and aspiring young professionals discover top careers that match that interest and get inspiration and guidance from successful professionals with careers in science, technology, engineering, art/design, and mathematics (aka STEAM Role Models), currently in Beta testing.

Businesses, like STEAMRole, are getting creative to connect students' practical ways of launching a STEAM career. Showcasing diverse STEAM professionals, STEAM Role enables students to follow relatable role models, establish a road map, and earn cryptocurrency rewards to tap into webinars and learning. As they progress, students can be connected with top companies for an internship or job interview opportunities.

Promoting STEAM in education requires teachers, programs, and practices. And at Education Unbound, we’re working hard to build up STEAM in education, to help change the way we teach our students, and the way our students think about their future. Learn how you can join our mission by visiting Education Unbound Programs.


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