The Importance of Adding an “A” to STEM
The benefits of STEAM education for forming well-rounded students
Ask almost anyone in education about STEM and they’ll agree it’s important for children to learn. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) touches every part of daily life. It is responsible for the cell phone you use. It helps us prepare the food we eat. Without it, there would be no TV programs. When both parents and kids understand STEM, we can make great strides in creating better opportunities for our kids and a better economy for all of us.
STEM shouldn’t be an island, however. Arts education is also very important in growing well-rounded students. When you combine arts education with STEM, you get STEAM.
We explore the benefits of STEAM, including how it can improve grades, critical thinking, and self-esteem, and show why Lamad believes providing a STEAM education is the best of all worlds.
The state of STEM in the U.S.
Recent data indicate that only 16% of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science feel that science education in the United States is above average. 46% of them think the U.S. is below average in STEM education.
STEAM is seen as a better way to advance interest and understanding in the sciences. This is important because the U.S. is slipping further and further behind other countries in science and math education. This will affect competition and the economy.
How STEAM is Different from STEM
STEAM is considered next-level STEM. It emphasizes teaching the sciences and math but art is added to it. The “A” in STEAM includes fine arts, liberal arts, music, social studies, language arts, and physical arts. By including a focus on the arts, children are given a broad view of our diverse planet. In social studies, for example, teachers help kids understand other cultures. When we look at history, we can take steps to avoid the mistakes of the past.
Studying language arts helps kids prepare for a world that is constantly becoming closer. Advances in technology allow us to talk to anyone in the world any time we want. If a kid in Brooklyn, NY needs to talk to his sibling in Paris, France, it is now as easy as knocking on the door of a next-door neighbor.
Adding art to a STEM program might seem like an odd fit. However, incorporating art in a science and math curriculum has massive benefits. We will look at some of the ways STEAM makes learning sciences easier and more beneficial.
A brief history of STEM and STEAM
To understand why adding art to STEM is so important, we need to look at the history of STEM and STEAM. STEM as an acronym emerged in the early part of this century. It started as an industry term.
Niches in science, technology, engineering, and math collectively began using STEM as shorthand. It was a reference to specific careers. At the time, STEM mostly referred to the fastest growing industries.
Companies in the United States, educational institutions, and even the U.S. government realized something. They needed to increase focus on science and math in education.
They realized competition from other countries was only going to increase. If America wanted to compete in the technology race, we needed to get our youth involved as young as possible. After several years, STEM had become an accepted term in children's education.
STEAM emerged as hands-on instruction in the arts to help increase STEM comprehension. Educators began to realize the arts helped students boost their creativity. This creativity helped kids better grasp STEM fundamentals. It also helped them achieve more.
The benefits of STEAM
Including art in STEM education has several benefits. These benefits help students in school and continue into adulthood. Just a few are listed below:
Brain exercise – Like any muscle in the body, your brain needs exercise. Without constant use, kids may backslide, especially during summer vacation. Combining art with STEM helps keep students’ minds active. This prevents the dreaded summer slide.
Increased creativity – Being creative means your mind can think of new things. This is far better than a rigid “this is how it’s always been done” mindset. Many of the biggest advances in science have come from thinking outside the box.
Critical thinking – Problem-solving, flexibility, and responsibility are bolstered by the addition of arts education. In careers, those skills matter highly to employers.
Artistic outlet – Kids can present their thoughts or ideas with artistic expression. They have the freedom to communicate in a way that makes sense to them. This helps foster a sense of self, of belonging. It also nurtures healthy self-esteem. Kids who feel good about themselves tend to have greater confidence in what they do.
Sense of community – There is evidence that having an arts education helps increase a feeling of community in children. People of all ages risk becoming disconnected from each other. Because of social media, people just don’t connect as often in person. The arts can help kids connect to their community.
Learn in different ways – People process information by seeing, hearing, and touching. Some kids prefer absorbing information by listening. Others learn better by seeing things. Still, other students learn best by using their hands and getting involved. Arts encourage experiencing the world with multiple senses. As a result, kids will learn better and faster.
Kids test better – Studies have shown that kids with an arts education do better on tests. Several reports from the Center of Online Education reveal varying degrees of promising data. One 2002 report showed that kids who are exposed to music, dance, and even drama in school are better at math, reading, and writing. A 2006 study highlighted an increase in reading comprehension in children who had an arts education.
Higher graduation rates – The NSBA (National School Boards Association) has cited a study called the Nation’s Report Card that showed a connection between an arts education and lower dropout rates, higher graduation rates, and better overall academic performance.
Here at Lamad Academy, we are committed to ensuring your child is prepared for the future. We believe that by incorporating STEAM into our curriculum, our students will perform better.
It’s not only about performance, however. We want kids to become better, more well-rounded people. Doing so will help them navigate the twists and turns of adult life. Contact us for more information on our programs.