- Despite the ongoing economic importance of equipping students with STEM skills, educators mustn't lose sight of the importance of creativity and other skills imparted via the arts, DFRobot CEO Ricky Ye writes for eSchool News.
- Citing research showing connections between music and math skills, Ye makes the case for expanding to a STEAM approach by suggesting how project-based learning can highlight the use of design in, say, conceptualizing a futuristic device.
- Ye writes that today's employers are looking for leadership and collaboration skills alongside hard technical knowledge, and that the "A" can also represent experiences from extracurricular activities like sports or community service.
Many have bemoaned a decline in focus and funding in the arts amid the rise of standardized testing and STEM. There are two bits of good news, however: The Every Student Succeeds Act includes those subjects in its conception of a "well-rounded" education, and incorporating lessons tied to the arts into other subjects isn't necessarily difficult or prohibitively expensive.
In many cases, it comes down to a matter of making students aware of the skills they're learning. If a math lesson includes a study of patterns, for example, the use of patterns in musical composition can be highlighted. In an engineering or physics lesson, the design of an object can be a topic that details the use of creative and critical thinking. Students can even be challenged to create their own objects in a lesson on aerodynamics. Not only can this approach help students better understand STEM concepts, it can show them practical uses for the arts, as well.
The opportunities are plentiful and often require some simple creative reframing of curricular approaches. And for schools fortunate enough to have added maker spaces with 3D printers and other design tools, they have even more options in place.