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STEM, STEMArts, STEAM, what does it all mean?

We have gathered some information about the acronym STEM and its connection to the arts which might be helpful in making sense of it all.

What is STEM?

The acronym S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) was coined by Dr. Judith Ramsey when she was assistant director of the education and human resources directorate at the National Science Foundation from 2001 to 2004. The term is being used to raise awareness to research showing that nationwide our students are lagging behind in science and math. The studies emphasis the importance of improving K-12 STEM education in order to prepare students for the 21st century workplace and the new global economy. In 2007, George W. Bush signed into law a bill called the America Competes Act, also known as the STEM initiative for Science Technology Engineering and Math. There are currently national and statewide efforts and calls for new solutions to redesign STEM curricula and STEM teacher training in order to improve science and math education in our schools. Read more


In response to this call educators and art advocates nationwide have begun to stress the importance of returning arts to the STEM equation, calling to an "innovation gap" in our nation that threatens our ability to compete on a global stage.

Harvey White, co-founder of both Qualcomm Inc. and Leap Wireless International Inc. coined the phrase STEAM -- for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math -- in a talk to the San Diego Economic Development Corporation. He says "We simply cannot compete in the new economy unless we do something now about creativity and innovation." More

Brain-STEM:  The S.T.R.E.A.M Model for Learning

Dr. Ken Wesson delivers keynote addresses on the neuroscience of learning for educational organizations and institutions throughout the United States and overseas on establishing “brain-considerate” learning environments. He has added reading/ELA to the equation in his research. He says "Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the components of "STEM," are most effectively delivered in learning contexts where they can morph into a more brain-considerate “S.T.R.E.A.M.” model for student learning. When Science, Technology, Reading/Language Arts, Engineering, Art (visual/spatial thinking - VST), and Mathematics converge, we are teaching to the broader context of developing and utilizing "knowledge. 

Artists working with STEM

Artists too are taking matters into their own hands. Artists/educators Jane Crayton, STEM-A and Agnes Chavez, STEMArts, began exploring ways to work directly with artists and the artistic process incorporating a more interdisciplinary approach.

STEM-A mission: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics with an Artistic twist. Inspiring youth to become interested in STEM careers, is most easily done by capturing their eyes, minds and hearts with inspiration. STEM-A focuses on the development of artistic critical dialog, inventive behavior, creative intent and integrates it with STEM subjects. Lectures help to facilitate educational experiences, by allowing the students access to fresh perspectives on STEM-A, creating inspirational beyond the classroom.

STEMArts Mission:  STEMArts refers to an integral approach to teaching/learning that encourages a collaborative exchange between the arts and the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The STEMArts project encourages interdisciplinary multi-age collaborations that integrate art, science and technology while proposing creative solutions to real world problems. STEMArts experiments with innovative ways to engage high school students in meaningful collaborations that help them find their passion. Agnes Chavez is working with ISEA2012 to create STEM+art educational components for the conference.

Organizational explorations of STEM and arts

ARTSTEM ARTStem is dedicated to forging a deep and innovative relationship between UNCSA faculty and public school educators by promoting collaborations that explore the relationship between learning and teaching in the arts and the so-called “STEM” disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

The Art of Science Learning is an NSF-funded exploration of how the arts can strengthen STEM skills and spark creativity in the 21st-Century American workforce.http://scienceblogs.com/art_of_science_learning/

Stay tuned for more!