What is STEAM anyway?
When I first started my #STEAMwomen project, someone reached out to me and trying to be helpful said, “you’d get more views if you focused on STEM.” She was probably right. However, this would go against my morals and defeat the purpose of my project. I created #STEAMwomen to focus on inspirational women (often overlooked) who work in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math because I believe all of those fields are highly valuable. I believe in the educational framework of STEAM to develop generations of people to be problem-solvers, creative thinkers, communicaters, innovators, collaborators, and empathetic. Many people (especially those outside of the field of education) still don’t know about STEAM, so I decided to write up a brief history.
Most people have heard of STEM, standing for Science Technology Engineering and Math. STEM rose in the '90s as a result of the Tech Boom, which was a modern-day Sputnik call-to-action. Over the course of the next three decades, the amount of people working in STEM positions has risen dramatically. While on the surface level it seems great to raise a new generation of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians, the downside has been the hit to the fine arts. In 1993, arts funding was deeply cut, and art is still not a regular part of the curriculum in many schools.
STEM –> STEAM
In 2010, STEAM was created by adding Arts to STEM, an initiative started by John Maeda, former president of the Rhode Island School of Design. Maeda believed that creativity and design-thinking were essential for innovation. STEAM reemphasizes the value of the arts and humanities, and the desire to have a well-rounded society. Not to mention, high school students who study art have better attendance and higher SAT scores.
As an artist and an art teacher, I’m obviously biased, but I think the more we support STEAM, the better off our students will be.
Gunn, Jennifer L.M. (2017) “The Evolution of STEM and STEAM in the U.S.” Concordia University- Portland. https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/evolution-of-stem-and-steam-in-the-united-states/
Catterall, Lisa G. (2017) "A Brief History of STEM and STEAM from an Inadvertent Insider," The STEAM Journal: Vol. 3: Iss. 1, Article 5. DOI: 10.5642/steam.20170301.05
Available at: https://scholarship.claremont.edu/steam/vol3/iss1/5