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What is STEAM?
STEAM, an interdisciplinary spin on STEM that includes an “A” for art, is an integral part of influencing kids’ interest in STEM by allowing kids to explore these subjects through hands-on making. STEAM is a popular movement that was founded by Georgette Yakman in 2007 to promote and integrate design and art in STEM fields. She defined the movement as "Science and Technology, interpreted through Engineering and the Arts, all based in elements of Mathematics.” Since then, STEAM has become widely supported by advocates including Sesame Street and the Rhode Island School of Design.
The STEAM movement has inspired new school systems, companies and organizations to create new and engaging learning experiences that have captured kids’ interest. For example, Institute of Play, one of the premiere design-based non-profits, has been building learning experiences focused on games and play mechanics to engage kids in educational spaces. Learning Design Strategist Eliza Spang from Quest to Learn (one of Institute of Play’s first initiatives) talks in this video about how excited kids get in this type of learning environment: “They’re jumping out of their seats; they’re yelling and talking about triangles and the Pythagorean theorem, and you can see the energy in the classroom—it is very specific noise geared toward learning goals.”
Looking to find STEAM projects for your kids?
Learning STEM subjects in a classroom setting isn’t always accessible or inviting for all learning styles. Reading physics or circuit theory books typically does not sustain prolonged engagement but building a lamp or speaker will. In the process of making a tangible project, kids are invested in making their creation come to fruition while learning the fundamental building blocks of many STEM subjects, as well as creative subjects such as design thinking.