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Education News: STEM gets an A by adding art education

STEM initiatives have long captured the attention of educators as a way to help students improve problem-solving skills and be prepared for future careers. Now, a movement spearheaded by Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) aims to integrate art and design into STEM, creating a new concept—STEAM. As science evangelist and author Ainissa Ramirez reminds us, “being creative … is the secret sauce to science, technology, engineering and math.”

If you or your district is moving full STEAM ahead, this e-newsletter offers multiple approaches for educators to integrate the arts into STEM education.

Converting your STEM to STEAM

  • Create hybrid lessons: Incorporating hybrid lessons that use metaphors to explain a scientific concept, such as requiring brainstorms to be doodled or using paint as a medium for models or illustrations, is a great way to stimulate bilateral thinking. Tap both sides of your students’ brains at once, and who knows what they can achieve. Provide students with products that will get the creative juices flowing, such as mood pencils or fun pens.
  • Impart knowledge with song: According to research published by Johns Hopkins School of Education, music can enhance imagination, increase attention, focus concentration and improve memory. Use music to reinforce STEM concepts, like memorizing the periodic table or scientific formulas. Or, integrate a math lesson by teaching counting with music beats or patterns with rhythm. You may even want to have students write their own music, either manually or with a free app, like GarageBand® for iOS. Play compositions in class and reward best artists with Trophy Stress Relievers or award ribbons. Older students can compete for best composition. Give the winner a prize—maybe a Bluetooth® speaker or headphones.
  • Promote cross-disciplinary teamwork: Cross-disciplinary teamwork can push students to bridge the gap between STEM and the arts. For inspiration, consider this brilliant example from south of the border: University of Delaware students worked collaboratively to create a chest-compression simulator that replaced mannequins, making CPR training more closely mimic real life. The teams consisted of engineers who created the device, art students who made the device more lifelike, and theatre students who acted as patients. The result—a perfect balance of form and function.

Art as a central component of STEM education is described best in a quote from nineteenth-century photographer Charles Nègre: “Where science ends, art begins.” Perhaps we can further that premise with the belief that one doesn’t end where another begins, but that together, there is the potential to come full circle.

19th-Century Classic.STEM to STEAM. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 01 Apr. 2015.

Ramirez, Ainissa. “Creativity Is the Secret Sauce in STEM.Edutopia.org. N.p., 21 Aug. 2013. Web. Retrieved 01 Apr. 2015.

“The Arts: Turning STEM into STEAM.” Teach Arts. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 01 Apr. 2015.

Boyd Brewer, Chris. “Music and Learning: Integrating Music in the Classroom.Johns Hopkins University School of Education. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 01 Apr. 2015.

Pannoni, Alexandra. “3 Ideas for Incorporating Music Into Core High School Classes.U.S.News & World Report, 17 Mar. 2014. Web. Retrieved 01 Apr. 2015.

Criswell, Chad. “Teaching the Mathematics Of Music.Education World. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 01 Apr. 2015.

Fountain, Henry. “Putting Art in STEM.The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 02 Nov. 2014. Web. Retrieved 01 Apr. 2015.


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