Before talking about creating a STEAM culture in our schools, we need to define “STEAM.” A definition of STEAM is as follows: STEAM literacy is the ability to identify, apply, and integrate concepts from science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics to understand complex problems and use innovation to solve them.
STEAM is an instructional shift that should reach all subjects. It is a mindset; a way of thinking that demands us to tap into skills like collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.
A culture of STEAM in our schools will produce students who are:
Collaborators solving problems by working together over a longer period of time.
Creators with innovative ideas that will strengthen our economy, our position in the global marketplace, and our democracy.
Critical thinkers valued for their ability to analyze, determine, and evaluate multiple solutions to solve complex issues or reach an end goal.
Ashley Dwight, a third-grade teacher at Kent Mountain View Academy, fosters a STEAM culture in her classroom. Her students recently concluded a study of how an orphaned orca whale was reunited with her family.
At the end of the study, Ms. Dwight asked the students “how do you feel about science?”
“… I LOVE science! I am always in a rush to do science, it’s so exciting!” - Abigail
“It’s learning and fun at the same time! … It’s actually about measuring, observing, writing, math, and solving problems to figure out a solution to a real-life problem.” - Jojo/Gretchen
"What excites me about teaching science is helping students see connections from classroom learning to real world phenomena. Through the process, I’ve witnessed that even young learners develop their deep passion, curiosity, and empathy for various causes. This reassures me that the purpose for ‘doing’ science is so someday students can apply these skills as scientists for a real cause they truly care about. This in turn makes me fulfilled and inspires me to be a better teacher!" - Ashley Dwight