OBP - February 2023


Forums / Elementary Science / Transitioning from STEM to STEAM in the elementary classroom

Elementary Science

Transitioning from STEM to STEAM in the elementary classroom

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Emma Sprandel Emma Sprandel 515 Points

Hi everyone, Recently I have been seeing more articles being published about STEAM being integrated into classrooms. Being an art person myself, I love the idea of STEAM becoming a part of the classroom. I am a pre-service teacher at the moment (student teaching in one year) and am trying to learn as much as I can about STEM.  My questions to current teachers are: 1) How often do you integrate STEAM (the art aspect) into your classroom? Every lesson? Once a week? 2) what are some difficulties you have found with transitioning from STEM to STEAM? 3) How has STEAM benefited or hurt your classroom and the learning environment? 4) What is one unit you particularly liked teaching using STEAM ? 5) If you had the option to integrate STEM or STEAM which would you choose to integrate and why? 

Pamela Dupre Pam Dupre 92364 Points

I've discussed this very topic with my educational development leader. The danger we run into when we say we are teaching art integrated into STEM/STEAM is that; first if we aren't doing art on a regular basis then it isn't really STEAM, the other issue is that we could theoretically lose funding for our art classes. Some districts may look at it as a way to cut funding for the arts and save money in the school system.

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 10493 Points

Planning STEM learning that incorporates science, engineering, and math while developing or using technology doesn't exclude learning about art or topics in social studies, and social-emotional and reading skills. Also, a label doesn’t make a lesson a “STEM” lesson, it’s what the children do and learn that makes it STEM.

Elementary educators may have to dedicate time to focus on a single area of learning and may not be permitted to teach math concepts during a science lesson. Early childhood educators in preschools may have fewer restrictions on how the day is divided into learning units focused on one area of learning. My hope is that at all levels children will be able to develop their literacy skills, etc, in service to developing understandings about the world and beyond (including understanding people, nature, human-manufactured materials, objects in space…).

Using art materials and methods to document scientific observations is one way to include art in a STEAM lesson. But this should not replace  a time for Art lessons because Art is more than a tool for documenting observations. I like children to draw the details of their observations of a worm AND in other work express how they feel about the worm, or what it might feel like to be a worm!

As Pam notes, bundling areas of learning together into one unit of time may happen as a cost saving measure but then it diminishes all the bundled areas of learning.

Andrea Perez Andrea Perez 295 Points

I'm also a pre-service teacher and I wonder how practical it is in a real life classroom. Although I personally love art, I feel like integrating every branch of STEAM into every single lesson is too tedious for the average overworked teacher. For those who are already teaching, is this true? It seems like so much to do for one short lesson that you don't even have much time for because of intensive testing.

Rebecca Leahy Rebecca Leahy 2065 Points

Hello there! I am also a pre-service teacher so I'm more so talking from a personal point of view. I've noticed that integrating art not only expands a students way of thinking but it can also make an activity more fun as well. Some students may not respond as well because they might not think they're good at art but you have to stress that it's not about having talent and that it's just about exploring the topic in a different way. When teaching STEM subjects you can use art for explanations, examples and especially for projects!

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