January 22, 2013

“STEM to STEAM: Full Circle from Education to Economy” Expert Panel at SXSWedu

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

STEAM—adding Art and Design to the national imperative around Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—is gaining significant momentum as a pathway to economic competitiveness. How (and why) is art and design poised to transform our economy in the 21st century like science and technology did in the last century? How can art and design methods be introduced into STEM curriculum, making science and discovery “visible”? What are some examples of programs that are successfully implementing STEAM practices for developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary to build for 21st-century careers? What are successful cases of technology in the classroom that enable creativity?

RISD President John Maeda will return to Austin, Texas March 4–7 for the annual SXSWedu conference, and will moderate the panel “STEM to STEAM: Full Circle from Education to Economy,” a discussion on how art and design drive innovation by deepening the value of technological advances and enhancing the processes of scientific learning.

President Maeda will lead a diverse panel of nationally renowned experts who bring distinctive voices to STEAM, including: Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, Senior Vice President of Education & Research, Sesame Workshop; Jon Perera, Adobe Vice President of Worldwide Education Marketing; Matt Goldman, Co-founder, Blue Man Group and Blue School; and Ainissa Ramirez, Science Evangelist, Yale University.

The SXSWedu panel will stress the importance of arts integration: the STEAM acronym is a visual reminder of the initiatives objective to encourage the inclusion of Art + Design throughout primary and secondary education, across disciplines.

“21st-century innovation depends on the problem solving, risk-taking and iteration that is natural to the way artists and designers think, said RISD President John Maeda. Creative thinking is required to solve the complex challenges of the day, and to communicate, energize, and engage students of all ages in this learning. Sustaining arts education in its own right remains critically important. But equally important is taking a page from schools that have been successful at integrating the arts into STEM curriculum.

Adobes Perera agrees, positing that STEAM plays a critical role in positively shaping the future of education—tech tools are not means to themselves, their value is directly tied to what they can and should enable—creativity and innovation.

Sesame Workshops Truglio thinks its never too early to start. As STEM topics continue to be a critical component of early childhood education, it is important to allow children to explore these concepts through various channels, especially the arts. Incorporating the arts into our STEM curriculum was an exciting and natural addition, as Sesame Street has always used music, visual and performing arts as tools to educate and entertain children.

Blue Man Group and Blue Schools Goldman will talk about Blue Schools approach of weighing creativity, innovation, self and social learning, and collaboration as heavily as all the academic subjects to be responsive to the whole child. At Blue School, we believe that we can create the conditions for innovation and creativity to flourish by giving our young inquirers the tools to navigate and integrate the skills of scientists and artists. STEAM is essential for creating the innovation that is required for changing the course and trajectory or our world.

Science evangelist and Yale professor Ramirez says Creativity is a human need and we do it all the time. The issues of the future need creative solutions that teaching by memorization will not solve. Schools must create a space for creativity so that students can develop this muscle.

Check out for information on STEAM, case studies on best practices, ways you can gain momentum for STEAM in your own region with legislators, and information on attending SXSWedu in March 2013.

Contact: Jaime Marland, [email protected]


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