There is no doubt that the field of technology wouldn’t be where it is today without the arts involved. The greatest scientific discoveries were in creative domains powered by unusual combinations of technology and the arts and have since led to changes in the field to accommodate other topics. The name STEAM, coined by Georgette Yakman at the Georgia Polytechnic and State University, seeks to involve the arts with technology and show how crucial it is for the students to learn about technology, and as someone who has been involved in the STEAM field for a majority of my lifetime, I believe that the correct path to educating the future of scientists is through the arts.
Teaching STEAM topics can be divided into two general categories: teaching the basic concepts of the topic and demonstrating its applications. In computer science, the basic concepts would be syntax, loops, functions, etc, and for some students, this seems intimidating due to its abstract nature. However, through teaching with applications, students grasp a better understanding of complex ideas while being engaged through artistic mediums. When learning about loops and functions while making a game, for instance, the experience becomes more enjoyable, interesting, and is more easily retained. For instance, Hour Of Code’s computer science lessons for younger audiences almost always incorporate themes that children are familiar with and enjoy, such as movies and video games. Learning about coding while creating a game that moves a Minecraft character is much more effective than the alternative.
In my own experiences with STEAM, I personally have always found learning and working to be more compelling when I combine it with something else I enjoy in a non-technical field. Learning about artificial intelligence (AI) was initially a difficult experience because many ideas were tough to get the hang of. But after combining it with other subjects that I enjoyed, such as music, books, paintings, and more, I found learning about AI to be more rewarding and captivating.
The Bold Inventors Studio's curriculum with projects and experiments for students introduces them to core engineering ideas without being tedious and difficult to understand. Many projects involve themes that engage students, for example, reforestation, space rovers on planets, designing a better lunchbox, and more. Being able to apply these lessons in areas that make more sense makes learning something that students will enjoy doing. STEM topics are definitely incredibly important to our world, but teaching them in a way that is unattractive to younger students who are just beginning to be introduced to abstract topics is ineffective and damaging to STEM education as a whole. Involving the arts in our curriculum is the ingredient to encouraging the next generation to become scientists and accelerating their designing, problem-solving, and creativity.