Ever since the project that led to the development of my first book, Leonardo’s ABC, I have been impressed by the ways in which new, important avenues of thought made possible by rigorous exploration of the arts with science, technology, engineering, and math. Over the last year or so, I’ve spent time cogitating with colleagues on questions around STEAM education:
- Should the A be capitalized (indicating equal weight given to arts learning in the ever-crunched-for-time STEM classroom)? Always? Is art cheated when it is swept in with STEM?
- When thinking about integrating the arts with STEM (itself an integrative approach to learning and doing), do we mean integrating the arts with all STEM fields, at once, or just combining any one of the STEM disciplines with art?
- What are the advantages of integrating the STEAM fields?
- What are the risks to arts and STEM learning, and vice versa?
- What can rigorous STEAM learning really look like in practice?
On and on the questions go. The answers are tricky, especially when we try to put them into really rigorous practice worthy of both an arts class and a bonafide STEM classroom. Nominal integration is one thing, but really getting at rich learning in all fields at once? Well, that takes some doing.
While my colleagues and I definitely do not claim to have all of the answers, our work has resulted in some thoughts we believe are worth sharing.
Check out, for example, “What’s Wrong with Interpretive Dance? Embracing the Promise of Integrating the Arts into STEM Learning,” published recently in the online STEAM Journal, which opera singer turned STE[a]M education consultant Ruth Catchen and I co-authored.
What’s my next station stop as this STEAM train chugs forward? At present, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for grant funding to work as an artist in residence with a Massachusetts elementary school. Our plan is to have me collaborate with talented science, math, and arts educators to help students focus on learning and communicating science through visual and verbal modes of expression. This will involve lots of good, rich, curriculum-based science, via an artistic production.
I’ll continue to share insights about Leonardo da Vinci –the ultimate STEAM thinker–through my book and author visits.
And I’m always open to new opportunities to explore how we can educate ourselves and our students in powerful, lasting ways that truly engage them and make a difference.
Contact me if you have a project that you think I can help you with. As both an author and a STEM/STEAM consultant, I’m excited to collaborate!
Meanwhile, please drop a comment. Share your experiences or just your questions about STEAM education. What is the best STEAM learning experience you have witnessed or participated in? What is an experience that you wish could have gone better – and, if you can answer, what do you think was not as strong as you would have liked?