Science, Technology, Engineering, Math….and Art? From STEM to STEAM.

Due to the recent recession, there has been an increase in funding of education in the STEM fields. By encouraging innovation, the government hopes to bring wealth back into the country.

Although funding of STEM continues to rise, funding of art programs are being cut nationwide. Steve Pomeroy argues that schools across the nation are trading in art programs for “teach-to-the-test” courses that enforce narrow-minded thinking. Students are essentially being educated out of their creativity. Pomeroy believes that in order to foster innovation in our country we need tofoster the arts rather than tear them down. As Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space has said, “The arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity.” A combination of both is necessary for success.

Studies by Dr. Jerome Kagan, an Emeritus professor at Harvard University, have shown that art education improves math and reading scores as well as improving “attention, cognition, working memory, and reading fluency.” The arts contribute well to learning because they combine language, motor skills, and perceptual representation to process new information.

At Newton North High School, the Design and Visual Communications majors are designing a Pedestrian Alert system for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The design process involved incorporating a variety of fields and disciplines. They’ve worked with fellow Engineer majors to design the system, contacted MIT mathematicians on writing algorithms to calculate the safety of pedestrians to cross during on-coming traffic, and researched how to design a system that will best fit into the culture of the area. Although STEM education has been crucial to the assembly of their product, good design is necessary to get people to utilize the product.

Without good design an innovation is useless. Design incorporates the “human, cultural and aesthetic aspects of projects” (Design Institute of Australia). It’s the little black dress that makes people turn heads.

As Steve Pomeroy says, “A potent blend of science and imagination sounds like the perfect concoction to get our country back on track.”


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