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A group project based on STEAM, if implemented well, can teach more than facts and figures. Moreover, if people with different inclinations put their heads together, everyone can bring something useful to the lesson and be part of a team. Say, for instance, that a group of students is working on coding a simple app: one may be naturally good at learning coding languages, another may be a creative soul who can easily come up with a name and logo for the project, and another may turn out to be an inspiring leader who can coordinate both.

In STEAM education, no subject is inferior or superior to another and all knowledge is connected. With STEM alone, students may think that science and art are separate and you must choose one or the other, but with STEAM, they are encouraged to cultivate a healthy interest in both and, if they find themselves more suited to one, they understand not to frown upon those who prefer the other. The real world is not like school, where you are expected to apply concepts and skills from only one field at a time: with the interdisciplinary approach of STEAM, students learn how to make their own connections between subjects and perhaps even become friends people who have different interests.
In addition, if all knowledge is connected, the solution may sometimes come from somewhere unexpected : treating different subjects as parts of a whole rather than separate them, encourages creativity and critical thinking and offers unique solutions to problems, all the things which will be useful in a student’s future workplace.

Speaking of future workplaces, using STEAM principles to work on tangible projects that students can be proud of in the end demonstrates better than anything the real-world usefulness of what they are learning and gives them a chance to deal with safe but realistic simulations of problems they might come across in their future jobs such as troubleshooting, conflicts between colleagues, or working with clients who have very particular requests. With STEAM projects, you will never hear a student say: “What’s the point of studying this? We will never use it in real life!”

Engaging in a STEAM-based education can foster a lifelong interest in STEM even for those students who tend to lose interest in scientific subjects: younger children have not yet been influenced by the bias that makes these subjects less accessible to women, ethnic minorities, and economically underprivileged people, but as the years go by, these vulnerable categories tend to drop out of STEM classes.

Author: Catherine Perri – JUMP Trainer