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Celebrating STEM/STEAM Education Every Single Day

November 8, 2019 was National STEM/STEAM Day, to honor teaching programs in science, technology, engineer, art, and mathematics that are so essential in children’s education today. Achievements, individuals, and movements of significant societal impact all deserve a special day set aside to celebrate them. Their value, of course, begins and extends far beyond that single day of salute. STEM & STEAM are among the rising tides in education that students and educators can enjoy diving into every day.

STEM began to move into the forefront of education consciousness in the first years of the new millennium. In the early 2000s, studies showed that students in the U.S. were not achieving in STEM disciplines at the same level as students of the same age in other nations. Meanwhile, by 2010 the growth of STEM jobs in our national economy was three times that of non-STEM jobs.  

A congressional STEM Education Caucus determined, “The foundation of innovation lies in a dynamic, motivated, and well-educated workforce equipped with STEM skills.” Educators and government leaders at state levels began working together toward the goal of instilling STEM knowledge in every graduating high school student.

The need for STEM & STEAM related job skills continues to skyrocket. The great news is that it’s fun and exciting to spark young students’ curiosity, engagement, and delight in these subjects. Krishna Vedati, CEO and co-founder of Tynker, a learning system that teaches kids to code, says, “Introducing kids as young as six or seven years old to STEAM can vastly improve their development in crucial areas ranging from rational thinking to everyday social and emotional skills.” Read this for creative starting points on how kids can celebrate STEAM in the classroom all year long.

What is STEM education? This detailed discussion says that the purpose of STEM-based curriculum is to bring science, technology, engineering, and math “into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.” It goes on to explain that what “separates STEM from traditional science and math education is the blended learning environment and showing students how the scientific method can be applied to everyday life.”

How does STEAM differ from and complement STEM? This intriguing piece on both learning and teaching STEAM summarizes that “STEAM is a way to take the benefits of STEM and complete the package by integrating these principles in and through the arts…Our world is a beautiful, complex, and intricate tapestry of learning…” Susan Riley, Arts Integration Specialist, sees it this way: “STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.”

The stars are the limit for fascinating STEAM applications of STEM subjects. How about a hobby starting in high school that relates to astronomy, app building, ocean exploration, robotics, or photography? Online courses and instructional videos, many of them free of charge, can help open windows into numerous creative ways to work with math and science. Early love of STEM/STEAM studies can definitely lead to later choices in the work world––and to inspired lifelong learning.

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