A New Way to Approach to STEAM Learning


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An interdisciplinary approach to learning where academic concepts are coupled with artistic works and cultural practices as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, personal interests, and the global marketplace.

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A New Way to Approach to STEAM Learning

  1. 1. STEAM Areas Science Technology Engineering Art Mathematics El Anatsui. "Ala," 2013. Courtesy National Museum of African Art. Cultural Practices
  2. 2. Cultural Practice Cultural practice refers to the manifestation of a culture or sub- culture, especially in regard to traditional and customary practices of a particular ethnic group. It also refers to traditional practices developed within specific ethnic cultures, especially those aspects that have been practiced over several generations. Shabazz Palaces performance; Mary Lee Bendolph. “Strips and Strings,” 2003. Gee’s Bend, Alabama; Nike ACG Kimono Men's Jacket.
  3. 3. STEAM Education STEAM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with artistic works & cultural practices as students apply science, technology, engineering & mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, their personal interests & the global marketplace. A middle school student exploring the Virtual Bead Loom Culturally Situated Design Tool (CSDT). Courtesy Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
  4. 4. Crosscutting Concepts The National Research Council's (NRC) framework describes crosscutting concepts that have application across all domains of science. As such, they are a way of linking different areas of STEAM including: Patterns, similarity & diversity; Cause & effect; Scale, proportion & quantity; Systems & system models; Energy and matter; Structure & function; Stability & change. An example of polyrhythms in a two dimensional design.
  5. 5. Science Science, which deals with and seeks the understanding of the natural world (NRC, 1996, p. 24), is the underpinning of technology. Scientific processes include “inquiry,” “discovering what is,” “exploring,” and using “the scientific method.” Artist and former scientist Fred Eversley's studio. Courtesy the artist.
  6. 6. Technology Technology is the modification of the natural world to meet human wants & needs (ITEA/ITEEA, 2000/2002/2007). It includes computers, software, networking systems & protocols, hand-held devices, cameras & other technologies, including those not yet developed, for accessing, creating & communicating information. Theo Eshetu. “Brave New World II (detail),” 1999. Courtesy National Museum of African Art.
  7. 7. Engineering Engineering is the area in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences gained by study, experience, and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize economically the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind” (ABET, 2002). Sisal Twinner Machine. Maker Faire Africa. Nairobi Hill, Nairobi, Nairobi Area, KE via Flickr.
  8. 8. Art Art is the expression or application of technology, science, math, and engineering skills and imagination through forms based on culture, personal style, and technique. Forms range from the cultural arts, drawing, painting, sculpture, design, music, and video (NAEA, 1994, p. 32). Nancy Crow (b. 1943). "Crucifixion (detail)," 1977. Courtesy American Art Museum (Renwick Gallery).
  9. 9. Mathematics Mathematics is the science of patterns and relationships (AAAS, 1993, p. 23). It provides an exact language for technology, science, art, and engineering. Sanford Biggers. “Lotus,” 2011. Courtesy the artist; Re-purposed Cornrow Curves CSDT. Courtesy Ron Eglash & Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
  10. 10. Cultural Appropriation Cultural appropriation is the adoption of specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. To avoid misappropriation of forms, or styles from other cultures it is important to present works in ways that acknowledge, illuminate and respect them. Use crosscutting concepts such as native, or relevant cultural systems & system models to explain cultural practices, e.g. four- fold symmetry & four cardinal directions in indigenous artwork. If the students’ response to a specific object/image is far from the work’s cultural meaning, invite them to look closer: many elements communicate more effectively if we give them more time and attention.
  11. 11. References • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. (2007-2008). Engineering accreditation criteria. Baltimore, MD: Author. • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). (1993). Benchmarks for science literacy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. • International Technology Education Association (ITEA/ITEEA). (2000/2002/2007). Standards for technological literacy: Content for the study of technology. Reston, VA: Author. • National Research Council. (1996). The national science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. • National Art Education Association (NAEA). (1994). The National Visual Arts Standards. Association Drive, Reston, VA: Author.