The Fifth Element of STEM
STEM education, which is the inter-mingling of somewhat isolated topics; science; technology; engineering; math, is considered by many to be critically important for the development of our future workforce. STEM initiatives have consistently captured the imagination of thousands of students, teachers, administrators and politicians since it was first trickled into the world of education in the mid 1980’s.
The inter-dependence of STEM curricular areas provides an extraordinarily solid foundation that almost any other area of study could be layered on top of to develop new and relatable educational outcomes. We have for years seen a passionate case for the introduction of art as a fifth element to create STEAM.
This right-brain skill set interwoven with the traditionally left-brain focused STEM works to provide an effective and needed balance. The common assumption that the added “A” denotes drawing, painting, sculpting, music and theater provides a limiting factor that should be challenged. We should also look at other liberal arts and social science topics as candidates for building upon the ever-expanding STEM foundation.
I imagine an interesting blend of data collection around specific human behavioral patterns, geographic histories, agricultural traditions and weather patterns in order to speculate through technology what the future may hold for any particular region of the world. I also envision a psychological study of the empathetic behaviors through social media of individuals and how that may impact the long-term evolution of people living in a variety of socio-economic conditions across the globe.
Each of these examples blends aspects of STEM and subjects that have traditionally not been STEM related. Life is not a silo exercise and the correct development of knowledge in any learner should embrace the inter-disciplinary world we live in and the work we do.