Intelligences are multiple! And, fortunately, we are increasingly eschewing segmentation for plurality when it comes to early childhood education. STEAM is an example of this. STEAM stands for the words science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. The methodology is based on the principle that subjects meet and collaborate with each other in a complementary relationship.
Not all STEAM methodology subjects are taught at school, but for its creators, all children should participate in projects which involve the areas of the method. Do you know how the methodology works and how to apply it at home and at school?
What is the STEAM methodology?
The traditional model of teaching has been questioned for many years. Is a restricted teaching method, which always deals with the same subjects and doesn’t value the particularities of each student, really the best way to learn?
The STEAM methodology comes precisely to integrate the knowledge of Arts, Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to prepare students for the challenges of the future. In practice, STEAM encourages the education of the little ones through five stages:
- Investigate, taking the lead in the search for knowledge;
- Discover, aligning curiosity with the incentive to research;
- Connect, working on their projects in order to integrate various areas of knowledge
- Create, developing creativity;
- Reflect, encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving.
With this methodology, educators assume a different role, acting as conductors and encouraging the search for answers, but without influencing the conclusions. After all, the objective is for students to create their own criteria and develop skills.
Technology is an ally of the method, as it is through platforms and tools that the challenges and skills of each child are identified, ensuring that they receive a personalized and highly effective learning experience.
What are the advantages of this methodology?
Using the STEAM methodology in courses or in the classroom brings several advantages for students and teachers. Check some of them out.
- More engaged students: as they are encouraged to actively participate in class and bring their doubts, ideas, and questions to the group, students feel more motivated and learn faster.
- Encouraging logical reasoning and critical thinking: part of the learning in the STEAM methodology includes problem-solving, which leads to the development of logical reasoning and critical thinking, two skills increasingly essential for adult and professional life.
- Teacher acting as a mentor: in traditional education, the teacher has all the responsibility for the teaching process. In the STEAM methodology, however, the student has more power of choice and the teacher occupies a mentor space, which directs the learning.
- More responsibility: being in charge of their learning process, students acquire more responsibility for their projects and, consequently, more commitment to their future.
- More skills for group work: within the STEAM methodology, the direction of learning is more individualized, but projects usually involve groups, where each student has their roles and responsibilities and collaboration is essential.
- Improved communication: understanding your colleagues’ points of view, knowing how to defend your ideas, and exchanging experiences are pillars of the STEAM methodology, which help develop communication skills.
- Development of creativity and innovation: students are encouraged to “think outside the box” and find creative and innovative solutions for their projects.
How is the STEAM methodology applied?
In schools and courses that choose to apply this methodology, the student must be placed as the centre and protagonist of the learning process. This means that they can make decisions and should be encouraged to participate actively in the lessons.
When carrying out this type of dynamic, children experience how strong the intersection between subjects is. The projects also encourage dialogue, teamwork, and the protagonism of young people. In other words, the methodology provokes a very complete development.
The interesting thing about this is that this trend invalidates preferences for one field of knowledge over another. Once segmentation becomes more and more symbolic, one discipline drives the other.
Another extremely interesting point is to note the applicability of STEAM. The methodology moves away from theory and leads students towards practice. According to the American psychiatrist William Glasser, hands-on learning has an 80% efficiency rate, compared to 20% when we only listen to a lecture.
The teacher acts as a mentor or a mediator, who shows the paths, but allows the student to choose his actions and learn from his mistakes and successes. The teacher is also an encourager and adviser:
- Stimulating debates and exchanges of ideas among the group;
- Bringing challenges related to the reality of their students and proposing projects that solve real problems;
- Encouraging creative thinking and innovative solutions;
- Stimulating students to find the answers to their questions through research or reflection;
- Promoting the exchange of experiences and group activities;
- Using school resources to make the educational process more tangible and interesting – a good example is the use of laboratories to test hypotheses and see the results;
- Integrating the 5 areas of knowledge whenever possible, showing students that all of them are important in everyday life;
- Using the maker culture – or do-it-yourself and encouraging students to create their own solutions from the beginning to the end of the project;
- Using technology to make the learning process modern and connected to new generations.
The STEAM methodology has much in common with today’s youth, always connected to technology and digital. Investing in STEAM training or course is helping the child to become a citizen of the future, with many opportunities for success.