The STEAM initiative is a movement led by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to add Art and Design to STEM (Science, Education, Engineering and Math) education and research in America. Since its inception in 1877, the RISD is committed to educating the public about the importance of art and design. Their belief is that by fostering art and design education alongside science and technology, it will generate innovation: STEM + Art + Design = STE(A)M.
Jason Smith, the Co-Founder of Click-A-Brick, an educational toy company, supports the RISD’s initiative. “I believe that true innovation comes from bringing science and art together,” Smith said. “It is only through an interdisciplinary approach that we can find us with viewpoints we wouldn’t have before. At Click-A-Brick, we aim to foster the traditional STEM skills but within the context of art and design as well. Our building block sets allows them to build geometry and math skills but also grants them the self expression that only art can offer.”
The RISD has several objectives it wants to accomplish through its STEAM initiative. First of all, it aims to transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM. It also works toward the integration of Art + Design in K–20 education and finally, it strives to influence employers to hire artists and designers in order to drive innovation.
The Rhode Island School of Design believes that art and design can teach flexible thinking. This is integral to developing risk-taking and creative problem skills needed to fathom the pressing challenges of today, from healthcare to global warming.
The STEM to STEAM initiative is supported by people from many different areas - from teachers, researchers and students, to policy makers and business-people.
The Co-Founder of Click-A-Brick Georg de Gorostiza considers himself an advocate of the initiative. “I can see it from two points of view,” de Gorostiza said. “As a business person, by integrating Art and Design to the STEM curriculum, we will be able explore new avenues of knowledge, foster innovation and growth for society. But as a parent, I want my children to grow up in a place where they
can flourish. I don’t want them to feel limited in any way. That’s important to me and I think the RISD’s push to add Art and Design to STEM is essential. At Click-A-Brick we’re already integrating some of their objectives into our upcoming sets of toys.”
The objectives of the STEAM initiative have the potential to drive innovation and prepare society for the challenges of the 21st century.
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