What is stem/steam?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

If you have kids of school age, you've probably heard of STEM. However, fewer people are aware of the movement to add Arts to the list.


Because STEAM sounds cooler.

No, but seriously, the movement was initiated in 2011 by the Rhode Island School of Design and backed by educational grants to research the addition of Arts to STEM education.

Nay-sayers argue that adding Arts to STEM would result in students spending less time studying the hard sciences and would do nothing to close the gap between the United States and other developed countries in the quantity and quality of STEM employees and employers.

Some might even be tempted to argue that the whole point of the STEM movement was to push students, especially women and under-represented minorities, into high paying jobs. In which case, wouldn't adding Arts be counter-productive?

However, the Arts—not just limited to art proper, but including performing arts, music, etc—provide multiple benefits to STEM education. Performance arts can help boost confidence and memory, music can help boost spatial reasoning, self-discipline, and focus, and art can help boost creativity and problem solving skills. And these artsy subjects do not have to "steal" time away from STEM education, they can be incorporated into STEM education via hands-on projects. Engineering projects can—and arguably should—involve design and marketability, visual arts can help students understand abstract mathematical concepts such as fractions, and programming projects can involve textile arts involving wearable electronics.

Ultimately, the well-rounded student makes for a better and happier student.