The need for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education is critical, especially because there will be more than 3 million job openings in STEM-related fields by 2018. But administrators and policy makers now recognize the benefits of integrating arts education into STEM subjects. The Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind in 2015, encourages the incorporation of arts and design into the curriculum by citing states’ obligation to support arts education programs in public schools. And U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. touted the benefits of a “well-rounded education” in a speech at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts in April 2016.
Now, instead of focusing solely on STEM, education experts are finding ways to innovate in the classroom with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics). This approach teaches K-12 students to think creatively and engage in other subject areas using skills learned in the arts.
STEAM utilizes the arts along with traditional STEM subjects as “access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking,” according to EducationCloset, a digital learning hub for educators. “The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process,” EducationCloset continues. STEAM works by leveraging the benefits associated with STEM with the accessibility of visual art, poetry, music, and drama. Students can make connections and learn in a variety of ways, reaping the benefits that a STEAM education can provide.