The acronym STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) has become a part of academic language as colleges, universities and other education institutions attempt to raise the profile of this area of study and the number of graduates in the field.
Now, a project from the University of Houston College of Education Urban Talent Research Institute is encouraging the addition of art classes to attract more STEM students.
“When an artist is painting, he is trying to solve a problem — how to express what is being felt. He experiments with colors, technique and images the same way a scientist or engineer experiments with energy and signals,” said researcher Jay Young, a University of Houston College of Education Ph.D. student specializing in educational psychology and individual differences.
“There is more than one way information can be taught just like there is more than one way problems can be solved.”
Young is currently evaluating an afterschool program at the Children’s Museum of Houston which integrates art and STEM.
“Creative thinking and problem solving are essential in the practice of math and science,” he said. “Incorporating art into math and science will not only help students become more creative and better problem-solvers, it will help them understand math and science better.”
“The federal government considers STEM natural sciences, while the National Science Foundation includes social sciences,” said Young, who studied physics in school and later taught high school math. “Supporting STEM education should also mean increasing the quality of the graduate. That is where STEAM comes in.”
STEAM builds on the efforts of STEM but incorporates art (the “A” in STEAM is for “Art”).
Young’s research focuses on how to incorporate creativity into STEM education with the belief that doing so will better equip STEM graduates. He says STEM studies are about problem solving, and creative endeavors are exercises in problem solving.
Recently, Young and eight others associated with the Urban Talent Research Institute presented their research to the National Association of Gifted Children conference in Indianapolis.
Source: University of Houston