STEM – we know what it stands for, but what does it mean?

Recently, the idea of adding the arts to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs has been gaining momentum. At St Columba Anglican School we have embraced the A as an essential component of the acronym and recognise that art, design and creativity are essential skills that cannot be isolated from this important grouping.

STEAM is a curriculum which is based on the idea of an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach five disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEAM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world problem solving.

The 2018 academic year sees STEAM and Enterprise as two of the core focus areas from Kindergarten through to Year 12. This will look different across each stage of schooling, but we are focussing on the integration of these core fields and providing students the opportunities to understand the impacts that STEAM has on their lives and futures. As the Director of STEAM (K-12), my aim is encourage all students to engage with the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math curricula. At the end of their schooling, I envisage that SCAS students will graduate with an appreciation, a deeper understanding, and the skill sets that will enable them, if they should so choose, to make a career in one or more of those five arenas. If they don’t choose a STEAM career, I am confident these students have the competency and confidence to transfer their STEAM knowledge, skills and appreciation into other life-long endeavours and careers.

From STEM to STEAM at SCAS 2

A case for change

In a world shaped by globalisation, environmental change and technological advancement, our students will live, study and work in Australia and abroad in ways that we can scarcely imagine. They will creatively collaborate with colleagues across cultures, the globe and disciplines to solve problems using tools that we have yet to invent.”
-STEM Skills in the Workforce, What do Employers Want? Office of the Chief Scientist, 2015.

I can readily see why we need more STEAM courses and technology in our classrooms, but more than just more courses, lessons or projects, more than the latest software and hardware, we needed a systematic and systemic plan to guide the students so that the quality of what STEAM adds guarantees positive learning outcomes. It is my role to help staff, students and the community define what STEAM “learning for all” means, and to ensure that a plan is carried out, assessed and used for continuous program improvement that will be available to every student.

The link below will provide some further insights for parents wondering how the future of work is changing for graduates and how they might help students prepare.

SCAS Dan ZavoneDaniel Zavone
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