The national agenda on competitiveness and investing in education is centered on the acronym STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It is these subjects that officials say need to be stressed in public schools to drive the future of the United States economy.
But some educators think there is a spelling problem here. Add the arts to this tech/science mix and you get STEAM. The STEAM initiative — making sure arts is an integrated part of the STEM mission — is the inspiration of president John Maeda at the Rhode Island School of Design. Maeda is a designer and former professor at the MIT Media Lab. He says arts and technology drive learning better when they are in a curriculum together.
This STEAM approach is being tried in settings around the United States. Reporter Rob Manning at Oregon Public Broadcasting spent some time with principals, students, and teachers at a school in the Portland suburbs. Steam, he says, has been producing some real educational heat.