As educators, you are tasked with the enormous responsibility of preparing your students for what lies ahead. For most, this means equipping them with the skills needed to successfully enter the workforce.
That is where STEAM education comes in. STEAM lessons help prepare students to take on real-world challenges using science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. The creativity needed in these disciplines help students form skills needed to solve problems in an innovative way.
What sets STEAM lesson plans apart from traditional ones is that it is project-based. These projects combine all five disciplines together for a holistic approach to learning that uses both the right and left sides of the brain at once.
The benefits of teaching STEAM are undeniable. In this blog, we will explore the top five reasons why K-12 educators must incorporate STEAM into their lesson plans to best set students up for success in their future professions.
5 Key Benefits of STEAM Education:
1. STEAM Lesson Plans Promote Creativity
When working on a STEAM project, students are asked to think outside the box and explore new solutions to common problems. In these projects, there is often no wrong answer, and there are typically multiple solutions. This promotes creativity and experimentation that traditional education lacks because students are encouraged to take risks and try new things.
Likewise, STEAM projects are usually assigned to a group of students. Throughout the course of the project, students will share ideas with each other building upon each other’s creativity.
2. STEAM Promotes Collaboration and Respect
During a STEAM project, students must work together to problem-solve and come up with thoughtful solutions to various real-world problems. Students must learn to communicate effectively and leverage their teammate’s skills to achieve their shared goals.
By working together, students develop respect for each other’s differences as they see the positive contributions their peers bring to the table throughout the course of the project.
For example, in our lesson plan, Spacesuit Repair, third to fifth-grade students work in groups to come up with creative solutions to repair a damaged spacesuit using various provided materials. Once the repair is complete, they test it to ensure it is waterproof and resistant to ultraviolet radiation and punctures. After students have tested their repair methods, they will come together as a group and report their findings to the class.
3. STEAM Facilitates Critical Thinking
STEAM projects are meant to solve real-world problems. This requires critical, outside-the-box thinking. Students are encouraged to experiment to come up with solutions. Their first attempt or attempts may not be successful, so they are forced to reassess the situation and pivot to new solutions.
The trial-and-error mindset and problem-solving skills lay a strong foundation for the type of critical thinking students need to be entrepreneurs and innovators in the workforce.
4. STEAM Projects Require Students to Solve Problems in a Hands-On Way
A lot of research has been done to understand the effect of hands-on activities on student’s ability to learn new concepts. The results show that students learn better through hands-on or “play-based” learning than teacher-led instruction.
Although hands-on and play-based learning are common in early childhood education, these concepts are rarely used in American public schools. STEAM education aims to change this by providing students with the hands-on learning experiences they crave.
STEAM projects encourage students to try things out for themselves with little guidance from educators. Teachers carefully supervise the activity, but they do not assist in the problem-solving process.
The goal of hands-on learning is to foster a sense of curiosity and problem solving skills. By solving problems without adult interference, children gain the confidence needed to tackle harder problems in the future.
5. STEAM Embraces and Celebrates Diversity
This is perhaps the most powerful lesson STEAM education can instill in today’s youth. The collaborative nature of these projects exposes students to a variety of perspectives and experiences they may not otherwise receive.
Additionally, there has been a strong push for girls to become involved in STEAM activities as women are often underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics professions.
Looking for more information about teaching STEAM?
Now that you are fully briefed on the many benefits of teaching STEAM, take a moment to learn more about the many ways Space Foundation supports educators in this endeavor.
Space Foundation’s Center for Innovation and Education has programs for teachers, e-learning tools, and fully developed STEAM lesson plans available for free on the website. You can also engage and apply for field trip scholarships,professional development opportunities, awards, and more.