STEAM Powered by Technology

Liz Alton

Science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics are a critical part of today’s educational landscape at every grade level. Pew Research notes that STEM employment has grown 79% since 1990, and according to Smithsonian, more than 2.4 million STEM jobs are currently unfilled. Finding ways to engage students and further embed STEAM into the K–12 educational curriculum is a top priority for educators.

Not only does it ensure that the American workforce will stay competitive over the long term and provide opportunities for students, it’s also an essential step in helping students develop the creativity, problem-solving abilities, and technology skills needed in a fast-changing, high-tech world. Let’s take a closer look at how technology is engaging students with STEAM subjects and creating unforgettable experiences that are fostering the next generation of science, technology, and mathematics leaders.

Hands-On Experience Offers a Wide Range of Learning Experiences

In many areas of STEAM, providing hands-on and immersive experiences is one of the best ways to teach. Virtual classrooms, augmented reality, and other tools are creating a larger sandbox for students to experiment with and apply what they learn. And with digital tools, it’s possible to create fun projects for every grade level.

Consider these examples: For younger learners, tools like Classroom Architect let students redesign their classroom to expand their understanding of spatial layout and basic engineering. For students in middle school, Rice University has published a series of CSI-inspired case studies. Students do everything from holding virtual clinical trials to detecting virus outbreaks in remote locations. In the process, they learn how science lets investigators unravel mysteries. The applications across STEAM disciplines are nearly endless.

STEAM Powers Creativity

In the last few years, there’s been a focus on incorporating the arts into STEM initiatives. As one educator noted, “Making the case for creativity was at the heart of the RISD-led movement to promote STEAM.” As technology explodes, finding strategies that help students develop their creativity is essential to getting more out of the tools available. Creative thinking, problem solving, and working collaboratively with technology are the keys to both innovation and productivity.

K–12 organizations are using technology to help develop a host of skills that students need, from creative thinking and problem solving, to collaboration. Take collaboration as an example. The development of collaborative tools lets students work together—with each other and with teachers—on individual projects. Over time, they develop stronger communication skills, receive more targeted feedback, and learn to get along with a wider range of peers.

Laptops and Mobile Devices Expand Access

Perhaps the biggest impact has come simply through the access that technology offers. Providing students with access to computers, notebooks, and tablets they can use throughout their K–12 experience has helped make STEAM accessible to more students with learning programs, digital textbooks, and the fundamental access needed to follow their curiosity.

As one educator told Michigan Public Radio, the impact is far-reaching: “We see teachers able to personalize instruction more. We see them able to give students options to go deeper and improve their learning.” Deeper exploration and personalized teaching have big payoffs for students. A report from Michigan State University that looked at more than 100 different case studies found that access to technology improved students’ performance in critical areas such as science, math, and writing—which are at the heart of long-term success in STEAM disciplines.

Today’s educators face a tall order in helping students develop the skills to thrive within STEAM. And, thanks to a wider range of technology available, immersive classrooms are offering students amazing STEAM-focused experiences and supporting the coaching, exploration, and learning needed to make their efforts a success.

Liz Alton is a B2B technology and digital marketing writer and content strategist. She has worked with a variety of brands including Google, Twitter, Adobe, Oracle, and HP, and written for publications including Forbes. She is a regular contributor to Connected, Connection’s official blog.