Educators worldwide are working to incorporate STEAM education into their classrooms. The most significant distinction between Traditional and STEAM learning is that Traditional Learning is built around memorization and recitation techniques (LinkedIn), while STEAM focuses on boosting creativity through the integration of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM).
Why is STEAM education important?
Since 1990, employment in STEM occupations has grown 79% (Pew Research Center). As new scientists and engineers join the field, education leaders are discovering the impact of underdeveloped soft skills. Sarah Elliot from the Employment Development Department conveyed this when she said, “We realized that language arts, social studies, and visual arts are crucial and can’t be taught in isolation from science and technology”. Introducing STEAM education to students will help them develop creativity and problem-solving skills, ensuring that the next generation of scientists and engineers have the soft skills needed to excel in their careers.
4 Ways to Keep Students Engaged
1. Nurture a strong sense of community
It’s essential to foster a strong sense of community to guarantee students get the most out of their education (National Society of High School Scholars). To accomplish this, educators should strive to:
- Give every student a voice – this can be achieved through class forums, weekly discussions, or comment cards
- Have the class work together for a shared goal
- Offer stability and predictability by setting clear classroom expectations
2. Flexible curriculum
Set aside time in the lesson plan for students to learn more about what interests them. Two popular formats to achieve this are Learning Menus and Choice Boards – these let students choose from a set assortment of activities, allowing them to explore a topic that interests them personally.
3. Make the lessons relevant
As educators, it is common to focus on the real-world applications of what we are teaching. Unfortunately, this “real-world” is based on our own experiences. To keep students engaged, it’s vital to incorporate topics and situations that connect to their daily life. For example: instead of starting a word problem with, “you just bought a home,” use something they could relate to instead, like, “you are building a LEGO castle”. This enables them to connect to the challenge and increases their engagement.
4. Get Feedback
Feedback is the best way to improve over time. When educators set up systems to regularly receive feedback, they can discover what is working and what can be improved.
Beyond the Classroom
- Offer optional non-graded activities to complete outside of the classroom.
- Introduce them to STEAM-based programs; one organization we recommend is FIRST®.
- FIRST® inspires young people to be innovative science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that inspire innovation and foster well-rounded life capabilities, including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.