“STEM” stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education. Add Art, and you have “STEAM.”
Is it STEM or STEAM? The opinions on that aren’t unanimous, but most people agree about the end goal: a school curriculum that fosters innovation, develops 21st century skills, and teaches young people to think both logically and creatively.
STEAM LEARNING: A PRIORITY FOR OUR KIDS’ SUCCESS
As the 21st century continues, it is clear that young people with competency in the STEAM disciplines are more likely to prosper both in their lives and in their careers.
Smartphones, computer-equipped cars and self-regulating appliances are just a few reminders of how pervasive technology is in our lives. We also know more technology-driven change will occur during the lifetime of our children.
Building the capacity of young people in science, technology, engineering, and math — and doing so within the humanistic frame that the arts help provide — is essential. Young people will need a high level of STEAM literacy to make decisions about their daily lives and to fulfill their role as informed citizens.
Today’s young people are already finding that more and more jobs require proficiency in STEAM disciplines. Our schools need to make sure they’re prepared.
California State PTA took particular interest in STEM/STEAM education with the 2011 passage of the resolution “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education” resolution, and PTA has advocated for bills and policies related to STEM/STEAM education many times since.
Families Are an Important Part of the STEAM Equation
Research from National PTA emphasizes the essential role of family engagement in increasing students’ access to opportunities in science, technology, engineering, arts and math — especially among girls and underrepresented youth.
PTAs can join with their schools and community partners to connect local STEAM experts with kids, families and classrooms.
Throughout California there are regional efforts to strengthen STEAM learning for everyone.
- Environmental Organizations in California
- STEAM Resources: Bay Area
- STEAM Resources: Central Valley
- STEAM Resources: Far Northern
- STEAM Resources: Inland Empire
- STEAM Resources: Los Angeles County
- STEAM Resources: Orange County
- STEAM Resources: Sacramento County
- STEAM Resources: San Diego and Imperial Counties
- STEAM Resources: Ventura County
Click the links below for easy activity ideas that will help engage families in STEAM, as featured at past PTA Conventions.
- Science Activities — Invisible Ink and Invisible Waves
- Magnetic Magic Activities and Liquid Magnet Worksheet
- Pendulum Pandomonium
- Static Electricity
- Technology Activity — Family Code Night
- Engineering Activity — Building Cup Pyramids
- Chlorophyll Art Activity
- Arts Hero Coloring Page
- Math Activity
- California Alliance for Arts Education Flier
Make it count!
In our technology-rich world, acquiring strong STEAM skills matters more than ever for college and career readiness.
In elementary school, students start to develop confidence in their ability to do the basics of math and science. They also begin to learn more about visual and performing art techniques and how technology and engineering work.
As studies show, with steady encouragement, learning and practice, parents can help children excel in these subjects from preschool to college.
Five Tips for Parents
- Make It Real – Connect math and science to the real world in your everyday activities as a family. When you go to a store, bank or restaurant, talk about how math is used on bills, deposit slips, menus or for tipping. At the park or beach, observe wildlife and plants, let your child draw what he or she sees and go online at home to discover even more.
- Play Games – Encourage your child to play with puzzles and games that involve decision-making or strategy to build reasoning skills. Card games like “Go Fish” teach children to count, sort and use strategy. Games like Scrabble involve spelling and math. Playing games in the car that estimate distance or listening to music, audio books and podcasts help grow STEAM skills.
- Feed Curiosity – Borrow science, technology, art and math books and materials from the library and explore these topics online. Visit science museums, zoos, aquariums, theaters and state parks to discover what excites and interests your child. Talk with teachers about your child’s studies to find out ways to reinforce STEAM skills at home.
- Encourage Discovery – Teach children how to find information and encourage them to solve science and math problems on their own. As a child tries to solve a problem, ask helpful questions and let him/her take time to find out how to do it. Learning how to find answers helps to develop critical thinking.
- Expand Horizons – While young children may want to be doctors or firefighters, widen their awareness of other interesting careers. Pilots, mechanics, software engineers, forest rangers, video-game developers and biologists, for instance, are all jobs requiring STEAM skills. Go online together to explore the range of career options available with a foundation in STEAM.
Making STEAM learning an everyday part of family life promotes student achievement.
Encourage your PTA or school to host activities such as career days, science fairs, math competitions, arts festivals and robotics clubs. That way, students will learn more about STEAM and how their interests can connect with career goals in these fields.
Check out fun, hands-on STEAM activities at www.pbskids.org.
- What Your PTA Can Do to Promote STEAM Education
- Online STEAM Activities and Reference Sources
- California’s Adopted Common Core State Standards: Mathematics
- National Research Council Report on STEM Integration in K-12 Curriculum
- Research Paper: Early Exposure to STEM and Its Impact on the Future of Work
- POLICY REPORT: PTA Survey Reveals Parents’ Views on Science Education (NGSS)