What is STEAM and Why is it Important?

In today's educational landscape, strong emphasis is placed on an educational philosophy known by its acronym STEM. Many schools and educational programs consider STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—to be the pinnacle of learning.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Study in the States website, "Many people would agree that STEM is the key to innovation and job creation in the United States. President Obama continually references the importance of STEM education in making the United States more competitive in the global economy...The U.S. Department of Labor expects that there will be 1.2 million job openings in STEM related fields by 2018, but there won’t be enough qualified graduates to fill them."

But where does art fit into all this, and how can art enhance STEM? Lauren Sharp, owner of ARTifact, a children’s art studio in San Francisco, suggests that a more appropriate acronym is STEAM—science, technology, engineering, ART and math. "By inserting art into STEM, to create STEAM, creativity and innovation are ignited," Lauren explains. "The STEM part may be necessary to maintain function in a global economy, but it is the creativity that fuels the innovations and progressions to advance the future of the global economy." 

Lauren realizes that children who love art, including her students at ARTifact, aren't all going to become career artists, but instilling art at a young age can help a child maintain a sense of wonder in the world, and help them exercise creative ideas and think outside the box throughout their lifetime. Creating art is indeed an important skill that will cross over into STEM during a child's educational lifetime, thereby fostering the innovation and curiosity for children to pursue their dreams—no matter what career path they decide to choose as adults.

Photo credit: Martin Cron/flickr

Art for kids, Child Development art for kids, STEM