“Education has very little to do with explanation, it has to do with engagement, with falling in love with the material.”
— SEYMOUR PAPERT
Nothing is more important than cultivating a student’s love of learning and the ability to think creatively. STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics) is about nurturing students’ curiosity and helping them develop the ability to problem solve and come up with innovative solutions to the unexpected situations that will continually arise in their lives.
Students in Jenny Billings’ 6th grade STEAM classes build, manipulate, and create. Her classroom looks like a makers-space. Soldering irons, circuit wires, miniature fans, aluminum foil, batteries, clothes pins, and playing cards are among the many objects strewn about the desktop, waiting for small hands to put them together in creative ways.
Jenny notes, “The interplay between creative vision and STEM provides rich learning opportunities and encourages students to grapple with phenomena, concepts, and tools while they design and build personally meaningful artifacts.”
Through the use of beginner friendly tools in a fun, creative, and collaborative environment, students can find an approachable entry point to STEM studies and complexify their thinking through playful, open-ended opportunities to understand the way that the arts and STEM subjects meaningfully support each other. This kind of active and self-directed learning sets students up for success in STEM, especially those who might not naturally gravitate toward these subjects.
In the end, STEAM is about facilitating opportunities for students to engage in their learning through taking intellectual risks, experimenting, and trying new things in a safe and supportive environment.