STEM Education is getting seriously creative
More than 500 science teachers gathered this week to talk all about arts. Here’s why.
Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM education) is a buzzword that’s not going away. Where once you may have been taught by a maths teacher from a textbook, and a science teacher in a lab, STEM as a whole subject area is of increasing prominence in education, with school STEM co-ordinator a fast-growing career.
STEM education means cross-disciplinary education by definition – whether it’s taught in technology or science classrooms, in maker spaces, libraries or elsewhere, it blends curriculum areas and can incorporate project-based learning.
It might be happening in an Advanced Science class, or in the Technology and Applied Studies areas, or in computer labs set up to roll out the national Digital Technologies curriculum, but one thing is for sure – expect there to be a strong focus also on arts.
STEM plus arts (STEAM) brings creativity into STEM education and it’s the core focus this week of CONASTA, the national conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association.
“At my school I have a science teacher who is also an art teacher,” says Robyn Aitken, CONASTA’s conference convener. “Maybe people are just creative in that way.
“The creative process is very similar for artists and scientists – the way that you go about inquiring and problem solving is similar. And art can show you how science works. I think teachers have really enjoyed the theme.”
Combining art (and other fields) with STEM is the goal of the Careers with STEM magazines – by sharing stories of the careers that blend STEM skills with everything from music to film, social change and media and communications.
Art-focused presentations at the conference included keynotes from medical animator Drew Berry, who has worked with the likes of Apple and Bjork to create stunning 3D animations of the human body, as well as stories from school teachers.
High school teacher and STEM education specialist Alexandra Fowler is a fourth year out in a at Woomera Area School in South Australia. Woomera is a small remote school in SA with under 20 students. Programs are designed to meet a range of year levels/skills. Alexandra’s passion is integrated curriculum, STEM/STEAM and place-based learning.
“Our biggest challenge is teaching across multi-year levels in one class, ranging from very young kids to older kids,” says Alex.
Alex uses World of Warcraft as a teaching tool, and got her students to create artistic fake wounds on mannequins – which she then needed to take through security to present at the conference.
For STEM resources that combine creativity with science, click here.
– Heather Catchpole