In an effort to create an educational environment that is engaging for all students, we believe the 3-E’s of teaching and learning must be functional in the classroom – Enhance, Enrich, and Engage. We must ENHANCE the basic skills the student already knows; ENRICH students with opportunities to grow beyond the basic skills; and ENGAGE students through learning. As such, the 3-E’s require creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and inquiry-based activities in all aspects of our learning model. One of the ways we accomplish the 3-E’s is through implementation of STEAM activities into our daily curriculum.
STEAM is an approach to learning that centers around an individual student’s learning styles and interests. STEAM emphasizes integrating five specific disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics – in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. This approach focuses on developing higher level thinking skills and connecting classroom learning to the real world. In each STEAM activity, 5 steps are taken – Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Test, and Improve. These steps emphasize collaboration, communication, research, problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity.
STEAM also includes engineering practices, which are the behaviors that engineers engage in as they apply science and mathematics to design solutions to problems. Engineering practices often involve the formulation of a problem that can be solved through design. Strengthening the engineering aspects of student learning will clarify the relevance of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics to everyday life. Engaging in these practices, even beginning as young as kindergarten, help students become successful analytical thinkers, prepared for college and careers.