In Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom Martinez and Stager argue that there is no real reason to mess with an acronym and the arts should be naturally added into STEM fields where necessary but not by changing STEM to STEAM (Martinez & Stager 2013). Instead we should focus on breaking down the boundaries between subjects for more natural learning (Martinez & Stager 2013). While those are wonderful goals that would benefit learning I disagree that the A shouldn’t be added to STEM. I think in the short term we should turn STEM to STEAM for one simple reason, money.
The Obama administration has pushed for increased funding for STEM fields in education to get more students to study STEM subjects, more faculty to teach these subjects, and more projects in these fields (US Department of Education 2015). Last year President Obama announced a commitment of $240 million in funds for STEM fields from various donors, foundations, etc. (the White House 2015). By bundling the arts into STEM some of that extra funding would find its way to supporting artistic programs.
While the federal government is raising funds to promote STEM fields many local and state governments are cutting funding to arts programs. The Washington Times writes that it is fairly common for arts programs to be cut, “Not too many years ago a high school in Wilson, North Carolina, lost around 20 positions, including clerical, teacher assistants and classroom teachers. Steve Ellis, principal at Fike High School in Wilson, said they have had to cut jazz band, piano classes and elective courses held through the community college” (Hambek 2016).
My hope is that by adding the arts to STEM they wont be left behind when the budget cuts roll through town.
Hambek, J. (2016). Arts programs in schools often in danger of being cut [web post]. The Washington Times. Retrieved from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/mar/14/arts-programs-in-schools-often-in-danger-of-being-/
Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom.
The White House (2015). Fact sheet: President Obama announces over $240 million in new STEM commitments at the 2015 White House science fair [web post]. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/23/fact-sheet-president-obama-announces-over-240-million-new-stem-commitmen
U.S. Department of Education, (2015). Science, technology, engineering and math: education for global leadership [web post]. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/stem