Why is STEAM Learning so Important for the Future?

by Matter & Form on February 7, 2020

To succeed in the 21st century, STEAM learning needs to be the focus of next-generation students. Incredible innovations in cyber-physical systems, the internet of things, automation, the use of computers in artistic endeavours, etc, are fundamentally changing the way we learn, work and live.1 But despite these developments of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, the students who will be most impacted by these changes are still largely relying on an outdated education system

How can we properly prepare students for the demands of the future when sticking to outmoded learning practices? With the right resources, educators are able to provide students with the resources they need to develop intellectually and to build confidence for the next stage of their lives. This is why STEAM learning is so important for the future.

STEAM education is an emerging pedagogy that combines the once-siloed subjects of science, technology, engineering, art and math into one integrated system. Given the challenges of preparing students for what’s to come, it’s important to explore why STEAM education is so important for the future. 

Interdisciplinary Skills Are Becoming Essential

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, a demand for higher cognitive skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, decision making, and complex information processing will grow by 19% by 20302. This is true of present-day jobs that already require a high degree of education and skill. A healthcare professional, for example, whose primary education is focused on biological sciences, will now need to learn how to think creatively and critically to adapt to a more technologically-integrated health care system. In this field alone, the development of 3D preoperative imaging, highly-advanced surgical robotics and AI deep-learning screening technologies are changing the way doctors, nurses, surgeons and clinicians interact with their professions.  

This shift is happening in the arts and humanities as well. The reality is that skills like computer programming, coding, 3D scanning and printing, and engineering are invaluable to creatively-minded students as they navigate the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

To keep up with this technological shift, the careers of the future will no longer be subject to one skill-set but instead will require interdisciplinary knowledge and a cross-marketability of skills3. By integrating science, technology, engineering, arts and math, STEAM education fosters this essential cross-marketability of skills that will set students up for exciting, unprecedented prospects. 

STEAM skills include: 

  • Creativity 
  • Technological Literacy
  • Interdisciplinary Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking

STEAM Learning Leads to Fascinating STEM/STEAM Career Paths

The World Economic Forum suggests that a staggering 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t exist yet.4 What’s more, each year 3.2 million STEAM/STEM-related jobs go unfilled because no one is qualified to fill them.3 Whether you have students interested in hard science, technology, engineering and math, or you have creatively-minded students looking for new modes of expression, STEM and/or STEAM curriculums can lead to incredible opportunities for students of all ages and personalities. 

This rapid development of a brand new employment landscape should act as inspiration for educators. While it takes dedication and effort to implement STEAM learning into a curriculum, the potential benefits are undeniably worth it. By equipping students with STEAM tools and resources, educators can aid student development, foster confidence and set their students up for success in a future full of new technologies and new opportunities. 

steam learning

Critical Thinking in the Classroom Leads to Critical Thinking in Real Life

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze and assess a situation or problem and make a reasonable decision based on the information given. In an information-based society where the information is becoming more complex and dynamic, students need to learn how to be decisive and confident in their decision making. They must use problem-solving skills to evaluate a situation and offer the best possible solution. To foster this, the education system needs to adapt to better prepare students for the flexibility and critical thinking skills they will need for the future.1 As opposed to relying on rote memorization, and repetitive classroom lectures, STEAM fosters critical thinking through hands-on, collaborative, iterative learning.

Critical thinking is a stepping stone for students to address problems, to see projects and ideas from new, different and innovative perspectives, and STEAM engages critical thinking in a dynamic, fun, educational context.  

Most noteworthy, Matter and Form 3D Scanning STEAM projects encourage students to think critically and confidently and to solve problems using trial and error by iterating through the design process until their creation solves the problem at hand. The 3D scanning process aids helps develop critical thinking by allowing students to 5:

  • Be curious
  • Think creatively
  • Explore everyday problem solving
  • Be independent and have control 
  • Make decisions confidently 

We Can Eliminate the STEAM and STEM Gender Gap

Meaningful equality in the workplace continues to be a problem, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. According to psychologist Carol Dweck, while boys get energized and excited from challenging work, girls are more likely to get discouraged.6 This observation isn’t a question of academic ability, as girls outshine boys in many subjects, but instead, it’s a difference in how boys and girls perceive themselves in relation to these fields. Women are more likely to switch from majors relating to STEAM or STEM. They may even lose interest in these courses because they’ve been socialized to believe “that they can’t do it,”7 or they don’t “believe their skills are good enough and don’t feel like they fit in8.”

By implementing STEAM learning in the classroom, young girls are able to try new things, learn through iterative experimentation and focus on real-world applications. This can increase the likelihood of them discovering a passion and confidence in feeling like they belong in these fields. Educators help by creating supportive learning environments where young girls can develop and practice STEAM skills by showing them the value it has on their futures. A STEAM curriculum can help debunk gendered stereotypes surrounding these fields and encourage young girls to be confident, brave, take risks and embrace STEAM-related fields.

How We Can Solve The STEM Gender Gap One Classroom at a Time

How Matter and Form “Solves” STEAM

We founded Matter and Form on the principles of multidisciplinary creative thinking modelled in STEAM. Our 3D scanners and projects solve STEAM by delivering hands-on learning for next-generation creators. We designed our 3D scanner with student users in mind, making our STEAM projects fun, meaningful, flexible, standards-aligned and hands-on. Students are able to design, modify, print and iterate to create prototypes and solve interesting problems. 

The 3D Scanning Process Can:

  • Engrain the value of trial and error, problem-solving and iterative testing to develop confidence
  • Help students understand how to harness their creativity and innovate using technology
  • Teach students how design affects the function of an object
  • Help to build technological literacy and understanding
  • Build hands-on technical skills

To learn more about STEAM, Matter and Form lesson plans and 3D Scanning, please explore our website!

MATTER AND FORM EDUCATION

Sources:

  1. Forbes Magazine, The 4th Industrial Revolution Is Here – Are You Ready?
  2. CMO Adobe, 15 Mind-Blowing Stats About The Future of Work
  3. Steam Magazine, 10 Reasons to Consider a Career in STEM Fields
  4. World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs and Skills
  5. Wasabi Learning, 6 Benefits of Critical Thinking and Why They Matter
  6. TED, Teach Girls Bravery Not Perfection
  7. EIE, 5 Strategies for Closing the Gender Gap
  8. Mark Crawford, Engineering Still Needs More Women
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