Sep 9, 2022

What Is STEAM Education?

When packing their child’s suitcase before they send them off to a summer camp or to the grandparents for the holidays, most parents would probably consider what weather their little one might encounter on their trip. The same applies when choosing from the numerous educational options for children - it pays to look ahead. To understand the best educational path your child should follow, it’s useful to envision what society will be like in 20 years' time when they will be embarking on a career. The rapid development of computer technology and Artificial Intelligence suggests that STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) will be in extremely high demand in the coming decades. Consequently, not preparing your child for that technology-rich landscape might be akin to sending them off on a cold weather trip without a sweater.

History of STEAM Education

What is STEAM education in contemporary schools? When many parents were undergoing their own education, it’s likely that the acronym didn’t even exist. Therefore, in order to appreciate the importance of this educational approach, it’s useful to explore its origin and meaning. The concept of STEAM has only been around for about 15 years, when the earlier discipline of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) was broadened to include the field of Art.

What Is STEM and STEAM Education

Most educational systems require a broad range of knowledge in a particular discipline to obtain a degree in that field. For example, you can’t get a degree in biology just by taking a couple of courses in botany and biology. Therefore, STEM was developed as a broad and balanced curriculum to prepare students for professional activities related to the development of the latest technologies. Just as there can be no good engineer without a knowledge of mathematics, education focused purely on mathematical sciences will be fruitless if it is not applied to solving specific engineering problems.

Where Did This Attention to STEM Come from?

Any good government must look ahead and try to predict the direction in which mankind’s technological advances are moving. If a society is not ready to embrace this new future, it will simply become uncompetitive. Other countries will readily fill the void left behind and will reap the benefits that result from their greater foresight. Based on its scientific forecasts at the end of the 20th century, the United States already understood that advances in the development of robotics, computer science, and AI would determine the leader of the 21st century. So, they implemented a number of strategies that included:

  • Conducting mass testing of schoolchildren in the various fields of science, technology, engineeering and mathematics
  • Studying the shortcomings of traditional education programmes in the field of natural sciences
  • Creating a more advanced programme which they called STEM
  • Developing core STEM competencies that every student should develop

The main mission of this programme was to increase the technical and scientific literacy of future employees.

Why Do You Need STEAM Instead of STEM?

In simple terms, the STEM educational programme did not achieve its goals. One primary aim was to transform education in the fields of mathematics and engineering, with their reputations as dry, inaccessible disciplines that were dominated by men, into exciting subjects that children were enthusiastic to learn.
The concept of STEAM grew out of Georgette Yakman's research on improving STEM education in 2006. She realized that, without including the creativity and innovation that were offered by the addition of "Art," the programme would remain too formal and unappealing to children. By making her programme more problem-oriented, Yakman has achieved amazing results and collaborated with many like-minded people. Since then, the STEAM educational programme has spread to educational and extracurricular institutions, captivating teachers, students, and their parents with the positive effects it has generated.

Importance of STEAM Education

At robotics classes, your child will build their very own robot that will listen to their commands and perform tasks! This is an excellent achievement by anyone, let alone a kid! Moreover, after successfully developing a robot, your child will leave the course full of confidence, knowing that if they put their mind to something and work hard, they can achieve anything! Why did society and educators so readily embrace the idea of ​​STEAM? There are several good reasons for this, which are perhaps more obvious with hindsight :

  • By the beginning of the 21st century, traditional systems of education in mathematics and engineering were already outdated and uninspiring to children, students, and teachers.
  • The employment sector for professions related to STEM has been growing annually, in developing as well as developed countries
  • Due to the high demand for specialists in this field, their salaries are an average of two times higher than those of specialists in other areas.
  • Studies have shown that students who study any of the arts tend to use more creative approaches to problem solving.

How Does STEAM Prepare Children for the Future?

What is STEAM education and why is it important for children? To understand this, you need to look at the skills it develops. It is important to note that optimal exposure to STEAM begins at an early age, and not when the child begins further education.

Communication

Interpersonal and communication skills are best developed through the process of performing joint activities. It has been noted that when children are given an exciting task, even the most modest and shy ones integrate into the team and begin to communicate freely with their peers. Group work breaks down communication barriers. Consequently, STEAM education compares favorably with traditional school education, in which each student is generally focused on independent tasks. The STEAM approach pulls children out of this isolated ‘bubble’, immersing them in an environment where meaningful results can only be achieved through communication.

Collaboration

An important component of STEAM education is group work. The ability to cooperate to achieve global goals, while overcoming one's selfish inclinations, is an important condition for successful work. Regardless of what the child may pursue as a career - be it software development, launching spaceships, or building more efficient treatment facilities - they will have to work in a team. And if they learn to create and maintain an atmosphere of goodwill and cooperation, sharing knowledge and skills, this will lay a solid foundation for the formation of positive and mutually beneficial professional ties.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

What is STEAM in education? Teaching in STEAM classes involves the implementation of six consecutive steps, the first of which demands focusing on the problem or task that must be solved. Each time a child goes through these six stages, instructors teach children some very important things:

  • See the problem comprehensively
  • Highlight key and minor elements of the problem or task
  • Critically evaluate possible solutions
  • Avoid immediately dismissing solutions that seem incredible, because they may turn out to be the most effective in the end

Creativity

Creativity is a key STEAM skill that enhances every child’s ability to innovate. Through experience they learn that the same problem can be solved in different and imaginative ways rather than through repeating previous solutions. This allows them to offer new approaches and solutions, embodied in specific practical actions, within the framework of STEAM education. The child develops the courage to create and experiment, key requisites for future innovators.

Benefits of STEAM Education

The fruits of STEAM are already visible as the first generations of children who were educated under this programme become active participants in the labour market. Their broad education in the field of natural sciences and engineering reliably protects them from turbulence in employment and provides the following benefits:

  • Increased involvement in the subject being studied
  • Enhanced ability to "think outside the box"
  • Creation of ‘specialists’ with broad knowledge and skills who can easily adapt and expand their knowledge to work across disciplines
  • The opportunity to become well-paid specialists in the labour market
  • Development of social skills
  • Increased self-confidence resulting from successful problem solving

Implementing STEAM at Home

The role of the school in developing children and preparing them for a future professional life cannot be underestimated. However, the school STEAM programme works within the limited time available during school hours. Therefore, for parents who want to fast-track their kids, it is advisable to create the key conditions for the development of STEAM skills at home:
  • Get acquainted with the ideas of STEAM and the principles of developing a child's skills in the fields of engineering and technology
  • With the help of specialists and internet resources, create a programme for the home development of the child
  • Master the 6-step model for solving problems according to the STEAM concept
  • Get familiar with high-tech solutions and introduce them to your child
  • Stock up on auxiliary tools for the formation of STEAM skills: Lego constructor, 3D pens, 3D puzzles, kinetic toys, Chibitronics, and other educational tools

STEAM Training at Maker Holiday Camps

If you want to know more about the role of STEAM in education, and whether it is worth guiding your child in this direction, visit Maker Holiday Camps or regular classes based on its facilities. Maker is an expert in the use of the STEAM programme in Singapore for teaching children aged 5-14 years. Groups of students are grouped by age and do not exceed five people. During their stay at the holiday camps, children receive comprehensive training that includes:

  • Getting to know programming languages
  • Studying robotics and assembling robot models with their own hands
  • Learning coding for robots
  • Studying the laws of physics in a playful and engaging manner
  • Drawing with 3D pens and creating 3D models
  • Exploring a wealth of engineering ideas that include mobile vehicles, turbines, pneumatic machines, spectroscopes, and much more
  • Self-assembling a variety of mechanisms to gain hands-on experience and learn independence
  • Creating music boxes and other musical instruments
  • Participating in competitions and receiving awards
Maker follows the main principles of STEAM education, which require that abstract scientific laws must be put into practice. Put simply, kids need to get ‘hands on’ to fully understand how things work. Consequently, children at Maker get regular opportunities to assemble a variety of mechanisms under the guidance of their mentors. In addition, great attention is paid to the creative component so that children do not just collect ready-made models but also invent something new. The development of creative abilities is stimulated by drawing and music, which are also given considerable attention in the Maker.
In addition, Maker offers weekly lessons with a frequency of 1-3 times a week. Thematic blocks are formed into 4-week courses that allow children in two age groups, 6-9 and 10-13 years old, to study the following areas:

  • Engineering and circuit modelling
  • Programming and 3D modelling
At the same time, children will develop creativity, imagination, and an innovative approach to problem-solving. Thanks to the practical orientation of the programme, students will understand how to apply the acquired skills outside of Maker in their everyday lives.

Conclusion

If you want your kids to have the best preparation for fulfilling careers in a future filled with smart robots and other advanced technologies, take care of their STEAM education today. Children with a strong background in STEAM will embrace both the challenges and opportunities that the future will bring. Indeed, with their broad range of skills, including coding and engineering, it is a future that they will help to create. They will be inventors who look for new ways to solve problems. At the same time, thanks to their exposure to the art and music classes that are included within the programme, they will appreciate that creativity exists across all fields. And, as parents of these curious, imaginative, sociable, confident shapers of the future, you will get to experience the wonderful world they help to create.
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