STEAM VS STEM
STEAM VS STEM - A Guide for Parents and Educators
You must have heard the term STEM and STEAM. What is the difference between the two? STEM education is not new but it has been at the forefront of leading edge approaches to kid’s education today. STEM has been gaining a lot of attention from early childhood educators and educators in general from K-12. What is STEAM education and what does it stand for? This method of learning has time and again been found as the most engaging way to teach kids how to think and broaden their horizons.
WHAT IS STEM?
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEAM education stands for science, technology, engineering, Art and Math. STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to combing these subjects together to learn how everything works in our environment. STEAM and STEM work together however; the manner in which they are integrated in lessons is an important component to the approach of learning.
WHY IS STEM AND STEAM Education important?
Firstly, the approach of STEAM and STEM education heavily relies on hands-on learning. Over decades, thousands of studies have demonstrated that hands-on learning and real-life application while learning, instead of just memorization is the most engaging way to absorb information. STEAM and STEM education work together to showcase how things work in real life. For example, an engineer needs to know how to use the concepts of science, math, and technology to construct or design a physical structure. The subjects in STEM and STEAM education are woven together and do not work individually. Moreover, in any field of work, employees are required to be knowledgeable in all fields of STEM not just math or art or science. Instead of teaching just about these fields separately, the approach of STEM education teaches how all these fields work together in support of each other.
Curriculums which include STEM and STEAM education are focused on hands-on activities which always include important lessons in critical thinking, problem solving, fine motor skills and an almost scientific way of thinking about real life problems which are faced by the society. Starting kids young with this approach to learning, has profound impact on their overall cognitive development. It is considered a 360 degree approach to immersive learning and growth of your child. Research suggests that kids in preschool and middle school who are already used to this approach of learning, have a significant advantage in academic success as compared to their counterparts.
The ‘A’ in STEAM education
Although, STEM education is not a new approach to learning, the addition of ‘Arts’ in STEAM is fairly new. Although, it is evident that STEM does incorporate creative thinking and applied arts in it’s approach to learning, some educators think adding the ‘art’ component to STEM education, highlights the art aspect of learning so it is not forgotten. Every engineer or architect would need to know the concepts of art and it’s power to present information, integrate principles and create unique ways to solve problems. Both STEM and STEAM have the same idea and the same approach to learning however, some educators prefer the more nuanced name for it which highlights the ‘Art’ pillar in STEAM. The concept is the same, which is to use all these subjects together instead of teaching them in silos.
WHY DO WE NEED STEAM AND STEM EDUCATION MORE THAN EVER BEFORE?
According to the Education Commission of States, STEM jobs are projected to grow by 13% between 2017 and 2027 compared to 9% for non STEM jobs. We need to raise children who are curious and conscious and excited to explore the world and find creative solutions to problem solve. Many education systems around the world, still give grave importance to memorization of the educational material instead of giving children an opportunity get their hands dirty in real-life applications. This approach to education is no longer useful and can even hinder children’s success. We have Google and the availability of Internet, which can give us any information we need at a click of our fingertips. Instead, we need the new generation to learn how to apply knowledge, how to think critically and outside of the box, how to problem solve and how to apply the knowledge they have learned through their own research and findings.
These skills are taught when subjects are taught in an integrated fashion instead of teaching these subjects individually.
STEM education has communication, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking as its core teachings. Hands-on play with STEM education is not only fun but highly engaging. It is a great way to get kids interested in learning. As parents and educators, following and encouraging the child’s natural curiosity and interests is the best way to get students excited about actual learning. When children are excited to learn, that’s when UREKA moments are bound to happen…
BEST STEAM KITS
Although STEM and STEAM education is the best way to educate children, finding the right resources and collecting the various items required to make fun and engaging STEM crafts and curriculum can be challenging and very time consuming. Making sure that an activity is touching on all aspects of STEM or STEAM is also essential however, it can be tricky to assess them on your own as a parent with no teaching or education background.
For overall growth, it is essential that the children are getting most out of their STEM learning sessions. For the convince of parents, there are STEM kits which are available online. We have listed some of kids and parents favorite STEM kits, which are carefully curated and designed after countless hours of research.