In this climate of economic uncertainty, America is once again turning to innovation as the way to ensure a prosperous future.
Yet innovation remains tightly coupled with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects. Art + Design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century just as science and technology did in the last century.
We need to add Art + Design to the equation — to transform STEM into STEAM.
STEM + Art = STEAM
STEAM is a movement championed by Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and widely adopted by institutions, corporations and individuals.
The objectives of the STEAM movement are to:
- transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM
- encourage integration of Art + Design in K–20 education
- influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation
STEM to STEAM
Art / Design
STEAM fields are science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, or applied mathematics. STEAM is designed to integrate STEM subjects into various relevant education disciplines. These programs aim to teach students innovation, to think critically and use engineering or technology in imaginative designs or creative approaches to real-world problems while building on students’ mathematics and science base. STEAM programs add art to STEM curriculum by drawing on design principles and encouraging creative solutions.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), previously Science, Math, Engineering and Technology (SMET), is a term used to group together these academic disciplines. This term is typically used when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development. It has implications for workforce development, national security concerns and immigration policy.
The acronym came into common use shortly after an interagency meeting on science education held at the US National Science Foundation chaired by the then NSF director Rita Colwell. A director from the Office of Science division of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, Peter Faletra, suggested the change from the older acronym SMET to STEM. Colwell, expressing some dislike for the older acronym, responded by suggesting NSF institute the change. However, the acronym STEM predates NSF and likely traces its origin to Charles Vela, the founder and director of the Center for the Advancement of Hispanics in Science and Engineering Education (CAHSEE). In the early 1990’s CAHSEE started a summer program for talented under-represented students in the Washington, DC area called the STEM Institute. Based on the program’s recognized success and his expertise in STEM education, Charles Vela was asked to serve on numerous NSF and Congressional panels in science, mathematics and engineering education; it is through this manner that NSF was first introduced to the acronym STEM. One of the first NSF projects to use the acronym was STEMTEC, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Teacher Education Collaborative at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which was founded in 1998.