The Importance of Integrating the Arts into STEM Curriculum
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Amongst forward-thinking public officials, educators, and professionals, one observation is clear: the education platform needs to better prepare students for both analytical and creative thinking at a balanced scale. Traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degrees focus on convergent skills, whereas art degrees focus on divergent skills. Being able to execute both at scale can better position our nation for global competitiveness. A 2012 study by the Partnership for a New American Economy, called “Not Coming to America,” reveals many undergraduate American-born citizens lack interest in STEM disciplines. With a STEM job market increasing three times faster than the rest of the economy, and only 4.4% of American undergraduates enrolled in STEM programs, there is a huge shortage of qualified high-tech workers. Education must foster both problem-solving skills and problem-seeking skills, even while maintaining student interest. If educators use Project-Based Learning (PBL) as a platform for delivering STEM content, students will develop these skills, and be exposed to various STEM professions. As an art educator with STEM interest specializing in PBL, I summarize major initiatives in STEAM, rationalize the value of integrating arts into STEM, discuss objective-driven assessment, and provide examples of taking theory to practice, thereby challenging readers to go full “STEAM” ahead.
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