STEM or STEAM? When we talk about science, technology, engineering, and math, are there truly four individual, separate subject areas or can there be overlap? Is it advantageous if these subjects are segregated or can education benefit when these four subjects are somehow linked? Now, today, many education experts want to throw an 'a' into the mix, combining arts education with STEM.
Not many would agree that the arts in STEAM should be treated as its own subject (why not just add communication arts or psychology to the ever-expanding acronym). There is a specific reason why experts call it STEAM when talking about science, technology, engineering, math, and art. So how does the 'a' fit into STEM?
The arts offer a different way of seeing, knowing, and dealing with the scientific world, expanding the definition of science and engineering and igniting students' interest in STEM. In engineering, art provides a useful way to make designed products or objects more useful or appealing to people. Just look at the design mantra of a corporation like Apple and its devotion toward form meeting function in every aspect of its products. In science, art leads to seeing the world differently. One example of this perspective is visualization, the ability to interact with and "see" data sets in different ways. Art can benefit STEM.
What are your thoughts? STEM or STEAM? Is there overlap? Should there be?
Resources for Science and Art Education:
PBS LearningMedia: Science, Design, Art: PBS LearningMedia offers hundreds of resources relating to STEAM
PBS Arts: PBS Arts Online brings students directly into the creative process, fosters individual artistic expression, and promotes experimentation and exploration.