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STEM vs STEAM – Why the Arts make all the difference

By Yvaine Cheng, Artist Program Intern

Sometimes I can’t find the right words to say when people ask me what you get by being an art major. Though jobs in the arts do not have a salary comparable to that of a business management or a computer science degree, jobs in the arts give us something else. They provide us with innovation and creativity.

The future of mankind relates to whether people will have the ability to lead with innovation. Because of this, people looked to find a way to foster innovation through education. Their solution was STEM education. Standing for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, STEM encompasses the skills which are operated by the left side of the brain. STEM focuses on logic. However, research indicates that activities in the arts, which use the right side of the brain and support creativity, are essential to innovation. STEAM is a movement championed by Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and widely adopted by institutions, corporations and individuals. In 1851, photographer Charles Nègre, who had a background in both art and science, summed up the notion of STEAM by saying this:

“Where science ends, art begins. When the chemist has prepared the sheet, the artist directs the lens and the three torches of observation, feeling and reasoning guide the study of nature ….”

With STEAM, teachers use Science and Technology, interpreted through Engineering and the Arts, all based in Mathematical elements. It is a combination of both STEM and Arts education that provides an education system which offers the best chance for developing the innovative leadership that is essential to the future.

The objectives of the STEAM movement are to:

  • Transform current research policies and place Art+ Design at the center of STEM
  • Encourage the integration of Art + Design in K-12 education
  • Influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation

STEAM teaches students how all things relate to each other, in school and in life. It’s more fun than traditional learning styles and makes sense to all types of learners because is basis is in the natural ways that people learn.

With this style of learning in mind, Arts for Learning works to provided fun programs. This includes programs that use art to solve math problems.  In the Bringing Math Story Problems to Life Through Puppetry workshop, students learn to use simple ball and glove puppet pantomime skits to turn equations into story problems, transform story problems into equations. With this style of learning, they are more likely to achieve accurate solutions.

Come check out Arts for Learning programs, we have programs related to technology and science and other interesting topics too!


March 25, 2015

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