art extensionAs educators, we often hear the term “STEM” referenced in professional development settings, curriculum programs and in educational news. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – four studies that drive learning and improvements in the classroom and beyond.  Lately, however, with economic uncertainty and the decline of creativity in schools, many are encouraging the “STEAM” movement, adding Arts and Design to the STEM equation in order to increase innovation in classrooms and the workplace. The Rhode Island School of Design has advocated for this movement ceaselessly, so much so that the idea of STEAM rather than STEM is being espoused by many universities, institutions, companies and individuals. According to the Rhode Island School of Design, there are three objectives of the STEAM movement:

  1. To transform research policy to place Art and Design at the center of STEM
  2. To encourage integration of Art and Design in K-20 education
  3. To influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation

At Rice’s School Literacy and Culture, transforming STEM to STEAM is a very appealing idea as much of our work fosters children’s creativity, ingenuity and focuses on the incorporation of various forms of the arts in classrooms. In many of today’s schools, opportunities for art and design are being diminished as the push towards standards and high stakes testing overwhelms the daily curriculum.

What is the impact of this development? What happens to children’s creative thinking abilities when art and design are so minimized that they are all but eliminated from a child’s school experience?  Is there a way to bridge STEM and STEAM in the classroom? What is the importance of arts training in the college environment? These are all questions we will consider.

This post will start a three part series where we explore the STEAM movement and its impact on our 21st century children. To learn more about the movement, visit

Authored by Jordan Khadam-Hir, Rice University School Literacy and Culture

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