Tuesday, February 21, 2012

in scientia veritas....STEM or STEAM?

Most people interested in or working in science understand what I mean when I use the acronym STEM , i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. It's a term that is increasingly used within science communication and education circles but may not necessarily be used widely outside these groupings.

There have been some arguments made to expand that acronym and to add ART to that mix - STEAM!

As far as I can see, the main argument is that the creative nature of science and technology is not a million miles away from the creative process of producing a piece of art. If we accept that, then art would be a logical bedfellow for the component parts of STEM.

Another argument I see is that art is a "different way of perceiving and knowing and dealing with the world" and could form part of an expanded "toolbox" for scientists and engineers.

Another motivation for some in this debate is to support the continued and improved teaching of art in school curricula. Fostering creativity and artistic talent (alongside STEM education), it is argued, will lead to increased levels of innovation and thus, economic growth. On the other side of the coin, there are advocates of STEM education who see the arts as a useful recruitment and outreach tool.

There is no doubt that all scientists (and students generally) would benefit from a well-rounded, education which includes a liberal dose of the arts. Closer ties between arts and science practitioners open up a range of important opportunities for both camps. It's also true that some of the best scientists are creative in their outlook and experimental design.

Whether we call it STEM or STEAM is immaterial. The links between the two should be properly explored and exploited. That's part of the reason I've created a direct link to all of the "Culture and Science" posts I've written over the last few years. The Cradle posts can be found in the top right-hand corner of the blog or by clicking here.


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