STEM vs STEAM – The Importance of Introducing Art

Over the last couple of years, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) has been at the forefront in schools and the only subjects that were extra shiny in the spotlight. The term STEM was coined in the US back in 2001. Nobody can deny the fact that the endless wonders of technology has been the main reason behind some amazing innovations all over the world. The continuous push on this in schools will no doubt be the reason for further developments in all countries. However, there is one component that is missing from STEM – the Arts. Why was this originally missed out on?


As things go, there is always a debate and many come to the conclusion that creativity is already a part of STEM. The fact of the matter is that the arts need to be actively encouraged. Hence STEAM was born – (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) Using STEAM education results in leaders of tomorrow who take risks that they have thought through, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work creatively. 


The STEAM movement is still quite new and evolving. This doesn’t mean that STEAM programs have not been successful. Several schools around the globe have already implemented a curriculum based on STEAM and there are many more that join the movement daily. Additionally, there are artists who are tackling the integration from the other end of the issue, working to bring the arts closer to science in their own way. We all remember our favourite big yellow bird in the educational television programme Sesame Street – even the producers added STEAM to the program for the 43rd season which aired in 2012! 


There are 6 simple steps to creating a STEAM-friendly classroom, irrespective of the subject that you teach. In each of these steps, teachers are working through both content and art to solve a problem or question.

1. Focus – selection of question or problem to solve.
2. Detail – identifying elements that contribute to the problem or question.
3. Discovery – active research and intentional teaching.
4. Application – learners start coming to their own conclusion and composition to the problem or question.
5. Presentation – sharing and feedback.
6. Link – reflecting, closing the loop and revising for an even better solution.


STEAM is not about what, where or when – it’s about why, how and a process of application!


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