Over a decade since gaining traction, the STEM movement continues to dominate education. Moreover, it is evolving with the incorporation of STEAM and STREAM. But what do they all mean and how do they enhance everyday learning? Let’s find out.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The STEM movement calls for integrating these subjects into local curriculums to prepare learners for the era of technology. Jobs in the 21st century require a set of unique life skills. Furthermore, the complex challenges presented need sophisticated solutions. Thus, STEM education helps learners to access the most cutting edge knowledge and training to tackle problems of tomorrow. Moreover, there are groups in our societies such as girls and women, who face severe knowledge and skills gaps. STEM education increases accessibility and participation for these groups. All in all, it enables individuals from all walks of the society to become impactful contributors to the 21st century workforce.
STEAM adds ‘Arts’ to the elements of STEM, which benefits from creative and innovative thinking induced by arts. Moreover, arts and humanities help teach morals, values, ethics and responsibility. History shows us over and over again how knowledge and skills in the absence of empathy can be truly disastrous. Thus, arts make the growth and development brought by STEM inclusive and sustainable.
STREAM incorporates another layer to STEM and STEAM by adding ‘Reading’ into the equation. Reading or literacy promotes critical thinking and creativity. By introducing reading as a core element of discovering new knowledge, STREAM provides a well rounded learning experience.
Why must STEM be expanded?
As discussed before diversifying STEM, particularly into STREAM, makes education more accessible and inclusive. A wider audience irrespective of their physical limitations and/or social restrictions are able to reach knowledge.
STEAM and STREAM develop empathy in learners, prompting them to use their knowledge and skills for the better good. These added layers act as the moral compass of the STEM movement, constantly questioning its objectives and end goal.
Arts and reading encourage those with analytical minds to be more creative and think out of the box. They induce innovation which is critical to navigating through today’s rapidly changing world.
STEM has a bad reputation among learners. Many students would rather do pretty much anything than study STEM subjects. Combining arts and reading with STEM makes everyday learning more engaging and exciting. It boosts intrinsic motivation in learners, as well as connect them with each other through shared experiences. STEAM and STREAM helps better define the real life application of STEM.
Playing to one’s strengths is important for success. However, it’s even more important to grow as well rounded human beings. Particularly for young children a holistic education is crucial for the development of their overall wellbeing. Moreover, the challenges of tomorrow are complex and unpredictable. Thus, children of today require extensive interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, as well as the capacity to work together to succeed in the future. Humanities and literacy combined with STEM studies provide the foundation necessary for learners to thrive in life.