Recently a great amount of focus has been placed on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (S.T.E.M.). To keep pace with a global economy, educators from preschools through higher education have increased learning opportunities that place emphasis on S.T.E.M.
A concept making its way to the forefront of educational circles is S.T.E.A.M., or adding the arts to the emphasis that is currently placed on science and mathematical literacy. Research shows that the arts support crucial developmental skills in creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication (National Endowment for the Arts Longitudinal Study results, 2012).
Children can use dance to learn about spatial relationships and geometry. Dance is movement and a constant creation of shape not only in circles and curves, but also in straight and pointed lines in relation to bodies as they move through a space. Science concepts, such as light and shadow, can be added to math learning and dance. Children can be encouraged to watch how movements change the shapes and lines of their bodies as the sun shines behind them.
DuPage Children’s Museum’s recent Educators’ Only Open House featured Hedda Sharapan, Director of Early Childhood Initiatives for the Fred Rogers Company, who spoke about the importance of continuing to provide S.T.E.A.M. based education.
S.T.E.A.M. education indicates that children can be offered concepts in math and science while developing additional complimentary skills enhanced through the arts. As we begin to see these connections, we can open our eyes to S.T.E.A.M.—its presence and value in how we engage learners.