STEM Plus Art Equals STEAM

The acronym STEM — standing for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — is in many twenty-first century educators’ vocabulary. However, even as awareness increases of American students needing more grounding in STEM skills to succeed in the technological world-of-work, implementation methods are still in an experimental phase.

You’re probably aware that STEM subjects have a bad rap. Do you remember groaning at memorizing the components of plant and animal cells? Or maybe sympathizing with a struggling Algebra student as an adult? STEM subjects are commonly thought of as “boring” subjects, but to be competitive, today’s students need more than a minimal understanding of STEM subjects, and to do so, students need to be engaged and educators need to reinvent feelings toward these sought after skills.

Federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation, are suggesting attitudes about STEM subjects could change by adding ‘arts’ to the mix, which would lengthen the STEM acronym to STEAM, according to the Education Week article, “STEAM: Experts Make Case for Adding Arts to STEM”

So, what would a collaboration of STEM subjects and art look like? The article lists the following examples:

  • At the Philadelphia city schools are helping elementary students learn abstract concepts in science and math, such as fractions and geometric shapers, through art-making projects.
  • High school students in several U.S. cities compete for the ArtScience Prize, where students fuse concepts in the arts and design with the sciences.

“For me, it is about connecting—or reconnecting—the arts and sciences in ways that learning can happen at the intersection of the two,” said Harvey Seifter, an expert in arts-based learning and the director of the Art of Science Learning.

How can you incorporate arts in your next STEM lesson?



“STEAM: Experts Make Case for Adding Arts to STEM,” by Erik W. Robelen. 1 December 2011. Education Week. Accessed on 2 December 2011.


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