Why a STEAM education will be beneficial in their younger years, according to learning experts at the Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai
7 July 2020| Last updated on 7 July 2020
Engaging children in STEAM education will implement 21st century concepts into early childhood.
Since the 90s, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) has been a driving force behind much of education, spurred by an increasingly tech-driven society that required skilled jobs. That trend has continued well into the 2010s and 2020, as the demands of technology innovation grow every larger.
However, a growing movement has been clamoring for STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics education. As design becomes an even more important part of modern technology, the arts become a critical part of any technology-centric education.
Couple this with the arts’ many benefits in innovative and creative thinking, and STEAM is clearly a wise change in the current educational system. This is an important consideration especially in light of how some schools may have neglected arts education in favor of STEM.
For STEAM education to be as effective as possible, it must start early, during a child’s formative and malleable years. This is one of the reasons why SISD has enhanced the Early and Primary Years English+ stream with STEAM, to provide children with the necessary knowledge and experience that will help them in later years.
Read on to find out the specific benefits of STEAM in the early years.
Cultivating early childhood curiosity and exploration
Studies show that preschoolers and young children are not too young to understand what’s taught in STEAM.
In fact, STEAM actually taps into their innate "creativity, curiosity, and persistence", and allows them to collaborate and communicate with each other in pursuit of this goal. Children also work well with working with items and materials, problem-solving, and testing designs – all of which are key elements of engineering instruction.
By using STEAM to promote this learning, these aspects of childhood behavior are cultivated from an early age, and may even reduce barriers to STEAM education in later schooling. It also helps cultivate innovative and design thinking when, through STEAM, the arts are meaningfully integrated into STEM education.
What’s more, integrating STEAM education in a cohesive manner with the rest of schooling can actually benefit overall student achievement, and STEM-related gender stereotyping (e.g. engineering is a "boy"-oriented field) is reduced. It also helps ease the transition to STEAM topics being taught in middle school.
Teachers' professional development
It’s not only students who benefit from STEAM in the early years.
Elementary teachers stand to gain plenty in their career as educators. This is primarily because, whereas middle and secondary school teachers are often trained in certain STEM education methodologies, early childhood teachers are not trained in STEM, and may experience consternation and intimidation by STEM teaching.
It’s not enough for teachers to have this training and professional development, though. Actually conducting STEAM classes, engaging students in scientific concepts, and getting feedback from real-world technology educators will help them grow to meet the challenge, and become better teachers to the STEAM-driven workforce of tomorrow.
How SISD paves the way for the future through STEAM
We recognise that our students stand to gain significant benefits by starting on STEAM from an early age, but we also know that they need to be taught the right way. The Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai integrates several technology education standards in our English+ STEAM stream, including the Next Generation Science Standards, International Standards for Technology Education, and UNESCO Education for Sustainability Development.
Through these technology education standards, SISD ensures that we provide our English+ STEAM students and the rest of the community with a high-quality STEAM curriculum, which meaningfully integrates technology into education and promotes design process thinking and inquiry into the scientific method. This way, our Early Years Programme and Primary Years Programme students get all the benefits of the International Baccalaurate curriculum, coupled with modern STEAM education.