Teachers are taking the time this summer to learn the art of including art in the transition from STEM to STEAM. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math; STEAM is all that with the arts as an integral part of the total curriculum.
In downtown Spartanburg, music filled two classrooms but there were no traditional instruments in sight. Instead, a group of 25 teachers from all over the state had gathered to learn new techniques of producing sound, thus creating music.
This was just one of the creative approaches integrating arts into science lessons that was featured at the Summer Institute for Teachers which took place in the Chapman Cultural Center at the University of South Carolina Upstate’s George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business & Economics.
This year’s institute focused on the transition from STEM to STEAM, the inclusion of the arts in curriculum that focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Hughes said all of Spartanburg County’s seven districts, along with businesses like Milliken & Co. have been supportive of both STEM and STEAM.
During the weeklong program, teachers were able to design kites by applying the arts aspect of STEAM. They also learned the science that allows kites to fly, and the forces needed to alter the kite’s height.
Hughes said the participants learned a thing or two.
“It lets you learn math and science without realizing you’re learning math and science,” she said.
Mary Lou Hightower, a professor of art education at USC Upstate, taught the teachers the four C’s of STEAM: collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication.
“We want teachers and students to really look at 21st century skills,” she said.