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As a parent, you might already be familiar with the STEM – science, technology, engineering, and maths – movement. Now, educators and employers around the world are adding arts into the mix – creating STEAM. From global MNCs to governments, STEAM courses are gaining in popularity, so let’s find out what exactly STEAM means and how it can help deliver a challenging, all-rounded education for your child.
It starts with STEM
Our children are growing up in a world that is vastly different from the one we grew up in. While many of our overall goals are the same – the route that our children will have to take won’t be similar at all. In fact, many jobs are expected to vanish as technological advances reshape our lives and our economies.
As a result, the skills that will be in demand are going to change as well. Employers from both the public and private sectors, require workers who have mastered the 4Cs of collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. We have previously covered this extensively – read more about the 4Cs here and read all about 21st century learning here.
This turned the spotlight onto STEM education. The acronym itself points to a science, technology, engineering and maths-based curricula. But what makes STEM education effective is how the maths and science content engages students and is integrated with real life examples and problems. Teaching methods are inquiry-based and student-centred – innovation, teamwork and communication are essential to success.
The data supports this – STEM program graduates enjoy higher earnings and better employability. That’s why STEM plays an increasingly large role in Singapore’s education system. The Science Centre, in collaboration with the Infocomm Media Development Authority, launched the PlayMaker Studio – a tech playground for kids to explore ideas, make mistakes and keep trying again for new solutions.
Global MNCs, such as Shell, are also partnering with the Ministry of Education to further increase STEM exposure within schools. Take the Bright Ideas Challenge for example – it’s an initiative spearheaded by Shell, organised by the Science Centre Singapore and supported by MOE. Publishers, such as Times Publishing, are also getting involved as STEM momentum picks up and are creating lots of STEM-based curriculum and content.
Add A for Arts
While STEM lessons can involve art (take for example, learning about product design in an engineering course), there has been a push to actively integrate arts into STEM programmes – creating STEAM. This appears in many ways – language, arts and communication, social studies, history, and more.
Educators say including arts not only creates a more well-rounded programme, it can also broaden learning opportunities and increase access to STEM concepts for learners who might not otherwise be into science and maths.
At the heart of STEM and STEAM learning is collaborative, problem-based learning that teaches those critical 4C skills of the future. The challenge for educators is to not just teach the individual STEAM subjects but to integrate all five elements into real-life learning to create agile citizens who are able to flourish in the 21st century.
Want to find out more about STEAM? Join us at Happy Sparks on 23 and 24 June 2018 from 10am to 8pm at Our Tampines Hub. Click here for the programme lineup.