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Tools for STEAM Classrooms

Teachers are learning that the sciences and the arts are no longer mutually exclusive. In fact, instead of focusing on STEM subjects alone, many educators are now proponing STEAM education. In addition to science, technology, engineering and math, STEAM also incorporates the applied arts, and each subject intermingles with the others, encouraging holistic learning. Helpful tools, in addition to a postgraduate degree like a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Science Education, can make creating a STEAM environment easier for teachers.

Get More From Screen Time

Tablets and computers help make learning more interactive and fun, but not all programs are created equal. A wide variety of education apps exist in the marketplace; however, some are better at incorporating STEAM education than others.

The Robot Factory app targets students from Kindergarten through eighth grade. It challenges children to create their own robots and then tests them with real-world physics. Not only does it flex creative design muscles, it also asks students to engineer a functional machine from hundreds of parts.

For older students from grades 7 through 12, Code Academy: Hour of Code delivers easily digestible lessons in JavaScript and HTML coding. The app uses point-and-click exercises to introduce key coding concepts in a fun and easy way. In under an hour, students can complete dozens of lessons and build their coding confidence.

STEAM Project Example

Not all STEAM education relies on the computer. Everyday activities can blend technical skills with art. In fact, beginning a technical lesson with art can make the math and engineering less intimidating. One example, used by a class in Annapolis, MD, began with a lesson in Mexican mosaics. The teacher tasked students with creating their own art out of pieces of paper. However, the teacher also asked how many pieces of paper a mosaic would need? Students collected sample sizes and used those to predict how much paper they would need.

For so long, schools divided up students’ subjects. Students learned math one hour, science the next and then went to computer lab once a week. On special days, children were able to create art. These schedules are changing now that STEAM education is catching on. By intermingling subjects and creating real-world scenarios, teachers can not only give students better examples of how to apply their new knowledge, they can also make learning less intimidating and more fun.

If teachers present challenges in practical ways, whether through art projects or engaging apps, learning happens naturally. In fact, the students may not even realize just how much they have learned until it comes time to incorporate their new knowledge into their everyday lives. But, the physical classroom is certainly not the only place where teachers can study the application of STEAM. By pursuing an online master’s degree in education, teachers can use their spare time to further their own learning in the virtual classroom.

Learn more about the UT Arlington M.Ed. in Curriculum Instruction — Science Education online program.


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