STEAM Education - Where Did it Come From?

Have you ever wondered where the idea of ‘STEAM’ education actually came from? In this article, we’ll take you through the origins of this common but often confusing term.

What is STEAM Education?

STEAM education is increasingly popular these days. While teachers have been promoting the benefits of STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) for years, in the recent past educators have expanded this concept. STEAM education takes basic science and engineering education and combines this with critical thinking, teamwork, application and ingenuity.

STEAM takes STEM education to the next level, allowing students to connect key conceptual principles to real-world applications in creative and innovative ways. Designing, engineering and constructing a model hydrogen-powered car is one type of activity that encompasses this STEAM approach. Students must learn math and engineering skills, but they are challenged to apply these creatively to real-world contexts. Working collaboratively, students are given the independence to learn from mistakes, find solutions to real-world problems and develop a sense of wonder, critique, inquiry and innovation.

STEAM Education

How was STEAM Education created?

Back in 2006, researcher Georgette Yakman was looking for ways to turn the benefits of STEM education into something more relevant for employers. While students may have a good array of theoretical skills in science and engineering, the employers of the future would need workers who would be able to apply these creatively, using imaginative designs to solve real-world problems. This is where Yakman’s approach came in handy. This new form of teaching sought to promote integration between science, technology, engineering classes – fostering a sense of independent thinking that employers would greatly value.

By 2012, the United States National Research Council proposed STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) as a new method of teaching K-12 science classes. Since then teachers around the world have used this way of teaching to great success. In a 2016 study, researchers investigated the impact of STEAM classes on the learning of students aged 8 to 11 in high-poverty elementary schools in an disadvantaged, urban district. They discovered that students who received just nine hours of STEAM instruction improved dramatically in their science achievement.

STEAM Education

What Does the Future Hold for STEAM Education?

Education researchers are investigating new ways of expanding STEAM education in a world marked by increasingly multicultural societies. While STEAM education can be extremely useful in getting kids to think critically, researchers have argued that because today’s classrooms are increasingly ethnically diverse, teachers require a deeper understanding of cultural differences between students. Moreover, other studies have found that there are vital social and cross-cultural aspects to scientific creativity.

Teachers may therefore seek to increase the level of intercultural awareness in future applications of STEAM education in a classroom setting. This means not only fostering creativity and ingenuity in a science classroom setting, but understanding how students’ social and cultural background can affect their creative scientific cognition.

STEAM Education
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