Planning your teaching year? Start here with inspiring ideas for taking STEM to STEAM.
Got your head around STEM education? Good. Now it’s time to take it a step further and add the ‘A’ for Arts. Wondering why? The best simple explanation uses Apple’s iPod as an example — MP3 technology had been around for years, but no one thought it was sexy; Apple designed the iPod and suddenly everyone had to have one.
Looking at it another way, the divisions we make between subjects at school (and beyond) are pretty arbitrary. It wouldn’t have occurred to Leonardo Da Vinci that he was exploring the world in a cross-disciplinary way — he was just doing it. It can be a revelation for students (and teachers) to consider the inter-connectedness of technology and creativity. And we know that critical and creative thinking is fundamental for the workforce that today’s students will enter.
From a practical perspective, teachers need to be comfortable with STEM/STEAM as the Australian Curriculum’s Design & Technologies is rolled out. But that’s not the only reason to get into it; it’s also an awesome way to teach. Making connections is exciting.
Primary: it’s never too early to start
Primary school teachers are generalists by trade, but there are many who might not have much of a science/technology background. The science component of many primary teaching degrees has in the past been pretty cursory. Don’t let that get in the way of your STEAM programming. As one primary school teacher said, ‘It’s not anything new – good teachers teach like this anyway’.
Take a look at the resources below for inspiration and some great lesson plans that will engage you and your students in STEM education. In a crowded curriculum where there’s an increasing focus on PBL, STEAM is a win-win.
Secondary: kill it with collaboration
For high school teachers, specialisation is a fact of life, and it may seem like a stretch to have to incorporate something ‘opposite’ your area of expertise. If you’ve got a heavy workload (and who doesn’t?) it may also seem like just another thing to add to the to-do list.
This is where it makes sense to capitalise on the skills of your fellow teachers. Whether it’s developing STEAM projects and lessons with colleagues at your own school, or exploring the ideas other teachers have shared online, there’s a whole world of STEAM to explore.
Ideas and resources
Here are a few links to get you started. Check out the education programs of your nearest art gallery too as many of them now incorporate technology.
> > 100 STEAM project ideas: for younger students
> > STEAMpop Zone: gorgeous lumifold projects
> > Sharespace.org: an excellent collection of inspiring articles
> > STEMtoSTEAM.org: more interesting case studies
> > OERCommons: a collection of lesson plans that you can filter according to education level, subject matter and more
> > PBSkids: fun STEAM projects for upper primary
> > 21st Century Ed Tech: inspiring reading
> > The Digital Technologies Hub: technology-based lessons that would be easy to adapt by integrating art/design
> > UTS’s STEAMpunk Girls: because we need girls to get involved
> > Education Closet: another collection of lesson plans and resources including some apps
> > iStem.com: enrichment activities for high school science students
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.