Why S.T.E.A.M. — Not S.T.E.M.
STEM is just a list, a descriptor if you will, of 4 related disciplines that we recognize are of critical importance in our educational system and our local, regional and national economy. On an international scale, the United States has, for many years now, continually lagged behind other nations in its educational output of graduates from high school who have the aptitude, skills and desire to pursue one of these disciplines as an educational or career path.
An acronym can help serve as the basis around which people rally with the common purpose of improving our educational system, inspire our children to explore their world and engage the adults who will help make this transformation of our educational culture happen.
We need a more inclusive definition that recognizes the central role of creativity, exploration, expression and design that are routine to practitioners of the STEM disciplines. We need to make STEM more inclusive, more powerful, with the singular purpose of engaging those who might otherwise feel intimidated by the perceived inherent difficulties and challenges of learning in the STEM disciplines.
The STEM movement needs more energy. We need STEM 2.0 We need S.T.E.A.M.
Humans, especially our children, share an innate curiosity about the world around us and an often insatiable desire to explore, be creative, and find ways to express our creativity. It is these attributes, combined with the methodologies and technologies that STEM disciplines employ in their creative pursuits, that provides the inspiration for discovery, innovation and expression of technological achievement in design.
It is, no doubt, an unintended oversight that the Arts, in all her forms, are not acknowledged to be of critical importance to learning in STEM. S.T.E.A.M. is interdisciplinary and firmly anchors the central role that the development of creativity and design through education and expression in the Arts can have within STEM.
S.T.E.A.M. has the ability to inspire and engage the public and children in a way that a descriptive word such as STEM does not. STEM was an important first step, but the time is ripe to take the next logical and fundamentally obvious step by making the creative process that is developed in the study of the Arts and design as a central part of our educational efforts.
As a symbol of an educational movement and philosophy, S.T.E.A.M. is inclusive and gives a wider audience a stake in this important endeavor of inspiring and educating children to pursue careers in STEM.
More importantly, it provides an opportunity to engage those not trained in STEM disciplines to recognize that they have a voice, and can make a meaningful contribution, to the S.T.E.A.M. movement.