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The education world has a lot of buzzwords, and an important one is STEAM. This acronym stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. The commonalities between these subjects are numerous, but two of the significant similarities are the need for problem solving and creativity.
Why is it essential to integrate STEAM into the classroom? The STEAM disciplines emphasize 21st-century skills, which are skills a person needs to function well. Some 21st-century skills focused on in a STEAM classroom are problem-solving, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity, among others.
Here are five ways students can benefit from STEAM in the classroom.
Too often, students are given a task to create something, and they throw something together without taking their time. Not only does this sometimes end in a low grade, but the student doesn't learn anything. In the STEAM classroom, the focus is on the process rather than the final product. Students are encouraged to take their time on each step of the process and learn from it, rather than emphasizing where they end up.
Group projects exist in many classrooms, but they are often not actually group projects. Often, several tasks are distributed to each group member, and they do not actually work together to complete the project.
When you do a group project in a STEAM classroom, all group members work together to create the final product. Each person brings his or her strengths to the table, and the students pull those strengths together to make the best possible product. This allows the students to feel proud of their contribution and helps teach them how to identify strengths in others and how to work with them.
There is an emphasis on rote memorization in a typical classroom, and students do not necessarily do large amounts of critical thinking. Learning tends to be extremely surface level and "teaches to the test."
A STEAM classroom encourages students to think deeply about the material being presented to them. Rather than asking students low-level questions such as knowledge and comprehension, students are asked to do a deep dive into the content. Students are encouraged to make connections from their project to other things, which helps them understand the topic more deeply.
The ability to problem-solve is an integral part of life. Too often anymore, kids aren't asked to problem solve very often, and thus they get frustrated very quickly when faced with a problem.
In a STEAM classroom, problem-solving is built into the learning process. Students are frequently tasked with problems and asked to solve them in whatever way they can. These problems are typically authentic, which helps with student buy-in.
Being asked to solve problems frequently helps develop students' resilience and helps them learn to tackle issues in various ways.
The old classroom model had students sitting in rows of desks, listening to lectures, and completing worksheets. This has proven not to be effective in authentic learning and often causes students to check out.
When learning becomes hands-on, students are more engaged in the process and, therefore, will get more out of the experience. Hands-on experiences could be anything from participating in a science lab to creating replicas of historical artifacts. Getting students moving and using their hands will have better results than sitting and doing worksheets.
At Futures Academy, we pride ourselves on our STEAM classrooms. We offer over 70, 21st-century skill courses enabling students to explore career options in coding, STEAM, digital arts, and storytelling. Contact us today for more information.