How FLL already inspires kids in STEAM

Recently, there have been discussions that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) is really missing an important component: Art. Study after study has shown that students who are involved in some form of art (whether it be music, visual or performing) do substantially better in the STEM fields. This combined acronym  is STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math).

As a visual art teacher, I know firsthand how art encourages self expression, creativity and innovation in children. Although these elements are important to STEM -they are not the primary teaching focus in those fields. By creating STEAM – and combining all 5 fields – all subjects are enhanced.

Although FIRST uses the acronym STEM, if you look at the FIRST LEGO League model, it already promotes STEAM… especially in the project portion of the challenge. As part of the project, teams are required to prepare a presentation, which shares their project in a creative way. Projects can be presented as songs, skits, poems, stories, graphics, photography, dances or plays – to name a few. Teams are encouraged to be creative and come up with a unique presentation. That is Art.

Three years ago, a performing art student I knew initially hesitated in joining our FLL team  since she did not see how her passion for theater could fit into the apparent STEM only focus. Thankfully, we convinced her to give it a try. The skills and talents she brought helped the team  both create and present an international award winning presentation. Along the way, she also discovered that she rocked at programming. That’s STEAM.

So, as you prepare for this new season: be sure you add that ‘A’ element into STEM and heat it up to STEAM.

– Heidi Buck