Sunday, December 11, 2011

STE[A]M Education: Integrate the Arts into STEM

Picture from: http://steammanifesto.com/
STE[A]M Education is STEM Education while integrating the Arts, such as music, visual art, drama, and dance.  The great thing about "Arts Integration" is that you can integrate the arts not only with STEM subjects, but with ALL subjects.  After attending two outstanding professional development institutes, I am an advocate of Arts Integration.


Background Information 
STEM is based on skills generally using the left half of the brain and thus is logic driven. Much research and data shows that activities like Arts, which uses the right side of the brain supports and fosters creativity, which is essential to innovation. Clearly the combination of superior STEM education combined with Arts education (STEAM) should provide us with the education system that offers us the best chance for regaining the innovation leadership essential to the new economy.

The competitors for that leadership, such as China and many other countries in Asia and Europe, include vigorous Arts curriculum as a national priority in their public school systems and we must do the same. The mission is to make the country, its leader and the funding agencies aware that Arts are not just a “nice” thing to have in the education systems – but rather they are an essential national priority to the future of the US in this rapidly changing global economy. Without that priority the US will slide farther down the list of economies.

STEM education is necessary but it is not sufficient – we must have STEAM education – our future is at risk otherwise. - Source


The Importance of Arts Integration
"Due to current economic recession many schools across the nation see their arts programs cut off in favor of core curriculum subject such as English, math and science. Despite the lack of apparent and secure job possibilities within the arts and a pressuring need for a strong work force within the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) research show that arts education is crucial in children’s learning process and development. Studies show that children exposed to arts education throughout childhood through primary, secondary and tertiary school show greater scores on academic achievements as well as greater social, cultural, emotional and cognitive development. Some of the measured improvement are greater self-confidence, communicative skills, cultural awareness and sensitivity alongside greater stimulated creativity and overall academic achievement." -Source

My Experience with Arts Integration in STEM Education
In the summer of 2011, I attended the Arts Integration Conference: Exploring an Approach to Teaching at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.  
The Kennedy Center defines Arts Integration as, "An approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both."  

Throughout the conference, I learned teaching strategies and collected resources via workshops and presentations on how to integrate the arts into my curriculum.  After the conference, I immediately began integrating the arts into my science and technology classroom by having my students create student-directed projects on various science topics. 


For example, I had my students learn about the scientific method by empowering them to create a project that demonstrates their learning and understanding of the scientific method, via dance, song, visual arts, or drama.

The following presentation is an example of my students creating a song about the Scientific Method in order to show concept mastery. They used the karaoke version of "The Lazy Song" by Bruno Mars as their music. The students created their own lyrics, as well as the presentation.





It wasn't until I attended the 2011 Siemens STEM Institute at Discovery Communications Headquarters that I discovered  STE[A]M Education.  I thought the concept was absolutely brilliant and I wanted to learn more about it.  Dr. Lodge was our first Keynote Speaker and he demonstrated how he integrates music and video into STEM Education.  



Here is an example of teachers performing a "one take" music video to the "STEM Anthem" song at the 2010 Siemens STEM Institute at Discovery Headquarters.


"Dr. Lodge McCammon is a Specialist in Curriculum and Contemporary Media at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation (www.fi.ncsu.edu). He finished a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in 2008 where his work at The Friday Institute continues to bring innovative practices to students, teachers and schools. He developed a teaching and professional development process called FIZZ which encourages and models best practices in implementing user-generated video and online publishing in the classroom to enhance standards-based lessons. He is also a studio composer who writes standards-based songs, with supporting materials, about advanced curriculum for K-12 classrooms." -Source


To demonstrate STE"A"M in their STEMtrepreneurship Project, my sixth-grade students created a commercial to advertise their product



Dr. Lodge explains how to create a "FIZZ" paper-slide video.




Here is another example of how to use Arts Integration with STEM.  Dr. Lodge encourages students to make a paper-slide video or a music video like this one!




For more information on Arts Integration, visit the following website:
http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/educators.aspx


For more information about Dr. Lodge, visit the following websites:
http://www.iamlodge.com/beans/  (here is a list of his songs for different subjects)


For information on integrating the arts at the elementary level, visit Melanie Layne's website:

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