Friday, August 30, 2013

Why STEAMspace?

Many of us in education are familiar with the acronym of STEM education - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  However, at Black Pine Circle, we were recently warmed up to a new acronym - STEAM - which includes an "A" for "Art & Design."

Now, this buzzword is not new (it's been around since at least 2006) but captures a particular nuance that illustrates our quirky Berkeley independent school, where science and art are equally important, well.  STEAM is a movement that came out of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and, according to the STEM to STEAM website, aims to
  1. transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM
  2. encourage integration of Art + Design in K–20 education
  3. influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation
The focus was put on STEM education many years ago, but to be truly competitive, it's about more than just math and science, it is about creativity and innovation; critical thinking and problem solving; and communication and collaboration.  It's about art & design.

This is excellent timing for us to embrace the idea of STEAM.  Over the summer of 2013, we dismantled our computer lab, moving technology into our library / media center space and into the classrooms, with the intent to integrate technology more widely within and across the curriculum.  In addition, in an effort to embrace the Engineering Design strand of the Next Generation Science Standards, we have implemented a Maker Mondays program in the 7th grade.

Regarding STEAM's predecessor STEM, some sources say the term STEM was first coined in the 1890's by the Committee of Ten at Harvard, as a response to the gaps in the agrarian school system of the 1800's.  Most credit the National Science Foundation in the early 1990s.  Other sources point to Dr. Judith Ramaley, president of Winona State University in Minnesota, who is said to have coined the term "STEM" when she was assistant director of the education and human resources directorate at the National Science Foundation from 2001 to 2004. (Previous to her, apparently the acronym was "SMET." Ew.) Other folks would prefer to discard the acronym altogether.

Whatever you prefer to call it, we will be highlighting some of the science, math, engineering, technology, and design happenings at BPC in this STEAMspace blog.


Other STEAM articles of interest:

Finally, here is a list of other organizations with STEAMspaces, although we were the first that we knew of (except, of course, for the gaming platform).  Know of others?  Please let us know!