Are you are familiar with STEM, which in recent years has been the learning approach used in the US, UK and other advanced countries in the world? Well, meet the new kid on the block – STEAM.
In simple words, STEAM is the upgrade and it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Arguably the most robust learning approach used by educators in the 21st century.
What is STEM?
As an educational concept, STEM was introduced in the early 2000s by the National Science Foundation. The central point of this learning approach is to educate students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an interdisciplinary approach.
With a STEM-based educational approach, students are exposed to real-life situations to help them learn and develop core skills to tackle the challenges of globalization in the 21st century.
Some of the core skills students develop through STEM are;
- critical analysis
- independent thinking
- digital literacy
What is STEAM?
STEAM as a learning approach was coined by the Rhode Island School of Design. It is designed to help students be:
- and develop critical thinking skills
It’s an integrated approach to learning that encourages students to think more broadly about real-world problems from an early age. It also reinforces the idea that making mistakes and failure can be productive.
Furthermore, STEAM is also very important because the largest job growth segment in the 21st century requires employees with STE(A)M skills. As it is, there is already a shortage of skilled workers to fill these positions, hence the need to train students and make these skills attractive and accessible to them.
Fastest Growing STEAM Jobs
- Doctors, opticians, and dentists
- Paramedics, medical and dental technicians
- Nurses and midwives
- Media professionals
- Accountants and Finance Managers
- Engineering professionals
- IT and telecommunication professionals
- Construction and building trades
- Finance and administration roles
Are you thinking of moving to Portugal? Here’s a guide to finding a job in Portugal.
STEM vs. STEAM
Over the past years, the STEM learning approach has recorded much success due to the fact that it grounds students in the major skills required for employability in the 21st century.
However, there is an argument that STEM does not allow for much room creative thinking and arts, this where STEAM education has been gaining traction.
The STEAM educational approach merges both analytical and creative thinking to help develop students’ imagination, enhance their abilities to innovate, collaborate, and think outside the box.
In addition, students also learn to be flexible and adaptable to the fast-changing environment and labor market.
Looking for an international school for your children? We’ve made a list of the best in Portugal.
STEAM Education in Portugal
The Portuguese government and education policy leaders have been working on strengthening science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for many years.
The major reason for this strategy is that STEM skills are critical to fostering economic development and driving innovation. It is also a known fact that STEM graduates have higher employability rates.
In order to achieve this, the government designed the curriculum in such a way that students are exposed to mathematics, science and technology from the primary school level until higher education.
Furthermore, the government has also set up centers to improve the quality of STEM teaching in order to increase people’s interest in science and technology.
While STEAM education, in Portugal, it is still at its infancy, people are becoming increasingly excited by this approach.
For educators who want to learn more about and to understand the STEAM approach, there are frequent workshops. Eekhout Academy sponsors one such of workshops. See here for more details.
Learn about the differences between state schools and private schools in Portugal with our guide.
The STEAM approach
Also, some private schools are already incorporating this approach, the British School of Lisbon is one of such international schools in Lisbon incorporating STEAM education.
The school blends the STEAM learning approach to its national English curriculum with the aim of giving the students a well-rounded learning experience. At this new international school, the students will be learning:
- arts with a particular emphasis in music,
- technology from a young age
We’ve interviewed the headmaster of the British School of Lisbon. Learn about the new school right here.
Importance of STEAM learning
According to the US Department of Education, STEAM related jobs are set to be in more demand over the next decade. It is predicted to increase by over 14%, much higher than averages in all other sectors.
Also alluding to this is the US Bureau of Labour Statistics which says in the next 20 years 80% of jobs will require technical skills.
In the UK, “health (+22%), professional, scientific and technical services (+16%) and education (+6%) will see the largest net increase in jobs in the long run” according to PWC. And 1 in 5 jobs in the UK by 2022 will be STEM jobs.
Despite the growing jobs in STEM fields, there is still some reluctance by students to train in these fields. Hence the STEAM approach, which tries to make components of STEM more fun to learn and approachable to kids. The addition of the art component allows students to learn things in a more open-ended way and apply them in real life.
In conclusion, the whole idea of STEAM education is to ensure that, students in this generation are forward-thinking, innovative and creative as well as possess skills that are in demand.
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I’m a freelance writer, who’s very passionate about economics and everything that is related to business. I’m pursuing a Masters Degree in Management in Portugal, where I live. I love photography, traveling and experiencing new cultures.