NSTA Reports—Debra Shapiro: NASA Stennis Space Center
Teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are discovering that by adding an “A”—the arts—to STEM, learning will pick up STEAM. “Students remember science learning situations that contain multi-sensory, hands-on activities or experiments,” which the arts can bring to science lessons, says Dawn Renee Wilcox, science coordinator for the Spotsylvania County School District in Fredericksburg, Virginia. “The arts are also useful for helping students make transitions and connections between science content or concepts through thought and expression.”
“Allowing students to use artistic methods to show their understanding of a concept, event, or object will elicit a wider range of student responses and participation,” says Inez Liftig, eighth-grade science teacher at Fairfield Woods Middle School in Fairfield, Connecticut, and field editor for NSTA’s middle level journal, Science Scope. “To understand the nature and role of science, it is important to compare and contrast it to other areas of study to see similarities and overlaps and differences. Looking at the history and development of all subject areas shows how knowledge, STEM, and the arts are all part of society and reflect the society of different periods in history,” she explains.
Liftig believes combining science and the arts “also lets students see how both of these have been and still are quests to examine and explain the world around us…Students see that curiosity, creativity, imagination, and attention to detail are traits common to artists/writers and scientists.”