Monday, October 28, 2013

Integrating STEM Education into the STEAM Movement

          by Sarah Manea

A movement in education pushed mainly by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is working to create awareness of the necessity of art and design in innovation and society.

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) movement is not a new curriculum, but is instead described by advocates as being a framework for teaching, which can be combined with the current public education sector.

Founding researcher and educator of STEAM education, Georgette Yakman, believes whole-heartedly that the merging of arts is necessary in the STEM methodology, and wanted to incorporate an artistic element into STEM.

There are three main objectives to the STEAM movement, which are to transform research and make room for art and design in STEM, allowing for the integration of art and design in pre-school and high school levels, as well as encourage companies and employers to hire artists and designers.
Those advocating this new methodology believe that the additional focus and acknowledgment of the arts will transform North American economy, creativity and ingenuity, much in the same way science and technology did in the 20th century.
Renate Pohl. Photo c/o artspaceport.

Scientists and artists all around the world are already beginning to find similarities in this unlikely pairing of studies, many of them being Canadian, such as Renate Pohl, founder of, and member of the International Space Art Network (ISAN). She works to portray the artistic side of science and space visually, and is one few professional artists to have graduated from the International Space University (ISU).

I believe wonderful innovations happen when creativity meets space science, and am at my best when working in the "liminalverse" to connect seemingly unconnectable thoughts, objects, and people,” according to Pohl on her ISAN webpage.
Bocklins Tomb by Glenn Brown.

Several space themed art works are going up for auction, and selling for millions of dollars worldwide. A notable work by Glenn Brown, who embellished an existing piece by illustrator Chris Foss who is known for his space science fiction work, recently sold for $3.8M. Even though it is unrealistic and not to any scale, the work portrays a creative and imaginative side to the already beautiful unknown we call outer space.

The concept of merging these 5 important parts of the curriculum seems promising and exciting, and if successful in practice, will create a generation focused around ingenuity and creativity.

Sarah Manea is an aspiring astrophysicist, currently completing a specialist in physics and astronomy at the University of Toronto.

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