Why is there an A STE(A)M?

IMG-4327The ‘A’ in STEM to STEAM is a global movement. The Arts – humanities, music, language arts, dance, drama, design, etc. have seamlessly collaborated and naturally connected with STEM fields and vice versa. Arts have been seen as social, humanizing, creative and more inclusive concepts. Sciences on the other end of the spectrum have been seen to be exclusive and logical.

STEM and Arts were seen to be mutually exclusive. STEAM addresses the investigation of STEM concepts using more creative processes of problem solving. Incorporating Arts into STEM will not only make the learning and careers more engaging but it also results in more inclusiveness.

STEAM presents an opportunity to spark excitement in learning STEM, improved critical thinking and problem solving.

STEAM addresses the investigation of STEM concepts using more creative processes of problem solving.

The STEAM movement originated at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The STEAM movement has been backed up by Internationally recognised institutes and seems to be making it’s way slowly into Africa. Design thinking is one of the aspects that incorporates Arts in STEM as a process for creative problem solving.

Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education researched the addition of the ‘A’ to STEM subjects as a means of humanizing science and technology-enhanced learning (Ge, Ifenthaler & Spector, 2015).
IMG-4326 If you remember Shuri from the Black Panther movie, she made use of technology in a very creative way.
Shuri was the architect behind Wakanda’s technology and as a scientist and engineer lead the Design Group. Her design ideas for the technologies were innovative with a lot of focus on creative modern aspects.

Collaborations of Arts and STEM are not a new concept, you may already know a few:

  • Da Vinci made use of his biology and civil engineering studies to enhance his artwork.
  • Leah Heiss, Melbourne-based designer and RMIT researcher has developed jewellery to assist diabetics administer their insulin, wearable cardiac monitor necklace, CaT Pin that can detect loneliness and can be customised to the style and aesthetics of the wearer.

So the next time someone says STEAM instead of STEM  it is not because they misspelled or mispronounced.

We as Womandla STEAM are definitely looking to have events incorporating Arts in STEM. Hence, the birth of Womandla STEAM pillar which was previously Womandla STEM.

Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education publication
Leah Heiss website

2015, Emerging technologies for STEAM education : full STEAM ahead. Edited by Ge, Xun, Ifenthaler, Dirk and Spector, J. Michael, Springer, Berlin, Germany.
Forbes November 7, 2019 – When STEM Becomes STEAM We Can Change The Game
2012, Voices from the field: Teachers’ views on the relevance of arts integration. Cambridge, MA: Lesley University. Bellisario, K. & Donovan, L.

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