As with many of the schools around the country, the Lawrence Arts Center is picking up STEAM. The facility is buzzing with preschool students involved in painting, dancing, sculpting, or constructing mini engineering feats. This isn’t just play, it’s about getting children to engage in science and the creativity at the same time. Teachers are now seeing that these subjects are more closely related than once thought.
But the point of the program, as well as other programs the arts center has for older students, is to dispel the myth that science and math simply don’t mix with creativity and artistic expression, and that students can excel at one or the other, but seldom both.
“I think it’s an unnatural separation,” Morris said.
“It’s helpful to do that when you’re really wanting to delve into things, but you also have to balance that with what we call project-based learning, which is actually putting everything together in a place where you can explore things really deeply.”
From STEM to STEAM
For many years, education experts grouped one set of studies into what were called STEM courses — science, technology, engineering and math. State and local policy makers have also emphasized those specific courses as being more important than others because they occupy an important place in the national and global economy.
But in recent years, many educators have started to push for putting arts education into that same package — turning the acronym STEM into STEAM — arguing that from an educational standpoint they all involve developing similar skills.
“In real life, things aren’t separated out like that,” Morris said. “Music involves physics and math. Sculpture involves all those different things.”