Brandon, Queen's Square | January 2, 2018
The first week of January is STEM Week at Idea Exchange!
The STEM approach to education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) actually emerged in the mid-1990s United States from an anxiety that American children were being outperformed in STEM disciplines by children in Europe and Japan. The result was an international re-emphasis on interdisciplinary education.
STEM and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math/Movement) resources and curricula were developed to incorporate elements of language into math studies, to teach scientific concepts through movement, to convey geometry through building and construction, to teach chemistry through painting, and so on. STEAM learning also happens to be a lot more fun!
Teachers and parents discovered that when children learn in a cross-disciplinary fashion they learn both disciplines better. Meanwhile, scientists were discovering just how interconnected the brain is through the use of new MRI technologies. Theories emerged about how brains developed in early humans.
Once upon a time, as our ancestors made simple tools, they communicated how those tools were made to those around them. Making simple technologies like stone tools involved developing motor skills, language skills, social skills, and a whole host of other things. In other words, education was interdisciplinary from the very beginning. So a focus on STEAM learning isn’t new at all.
Today, instead of making stone tools, children use building blocks, magnets, pencils, paint, and a range of new tech toys to create and solve problems together.
And the next time you hear the beeps and buzzes of a new high-tech gadget designed to teach coding and syntax through construction, see if you can hear the chip-chipping of stones in the background.