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News from Mathnasium of Myers Park

STEM or STEAM --- Which One Has The Edge?

Jun 15, 2020


Education has veered towards the implementation of new curriculums, two of which are STEM and STEAM. As signified by the acronyms, there is a difference of just one letter. However, that difference has posed a debate as to which one is more effective among children.


The STEM Approach

STEM was developed as a specific approach to education. It stresses Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. It has become part of the national education plan to keep pace with foreign countries that are advancing their own developments in these areas. Computer Science has also been lumped into the STEM approach. The overall goal is to enhance the country’s prowess in the areas of science and technology.


The STEAM Approach

STEAM has the same foundation as STEM, although it adds the Arts to that curriculum. That means including the humanities, which includes visual arts and theatre. It also includes anthropological, psychological and philosophical areas of study. This approach creates the possibility of unique collaborations which may include problem solving of real-world problems. 


The Verdict

One of the primary differences between these two approaches is that STEAM takes things a little further. Students are urged to ask questions on the subject matter. There is an emphasis on learning how to create and experiment, as opposed to a more theoretical and procedural type of teaching.


It is also important to consider the fun aspect of learning. At a young age, children are looking for ways to be excited about learning. Simply teaching technical aspects of the STEM curriculum may not be the most enjoyable activity. However, the addition of the arts suddenly changes learning. The arts tend to do a better job of engaging younger students and developing more of an affinity for learning.


The STEAM approach can also help children flourish when it comes to creativity. Understanding how things work is at the forefront of the STEM approach, although the arts enhances innovative thought. Looking ahead to the future, there is also going to be a need for innovators and creators. For example, understanding how a smart car works is something that can be learned. But creating tomorrow’s new and improved smart car is something that has to be cultivated through a more diversified education. 


The bottom line is that if STEM was infallible, then it would not have added another letter. The STEAM approach is a way of upgrading and fine-tuning what was already an innovative idea.