January 18, 2011

Rhode Island School of Design presents “Bridging STEM to STEAM: Developing New Frameworks for Art-Science-Design Pedagogy”

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
National Science Foundation-funded workshop brings together leaders to develop strategies for enhancing STEM education through the integration of Art and Design thinking“Bridging STEM to STEAM: Developing New Frameworks for Art-Science-Design Pedagogy”

The workshop will bring together 60 leaders in fields of Science, Creative IT, Engineering, Art and Design, Mathematics and Education Research to examine and develop strategies for enhancing STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math] education through the integration of Art and Design thinking.

Hosted by RISD President John Maeda and Provost Jessie Shefrin, and organized and led by Principal Investigators Christopher Rose and Brian K. Smith, the gathering is designed to initiate discussion of how to bridge STEM education practices and creative problem solving [turning “STEM to STEAM”] as an innovative educational approach. Providing a platform and network to explore current and possible developments in interdisciplinary understanding, perception, communication and research practices through creative enquiry and insight, the principal goals of the event are to:

• Develop strategies for enhancing STEM education through the integration of art and design thinking [STEM + ART = STEAM].
• Invent and share techniques that take advantage of simple, freely available IT systems and applications to support enhanced observation, analysis and understanding of pictorial and numerical data.
• Build new connections between art and design disciplines and scientific fields to advance understanding of complex systems, e.g., through improved strategies and techniques for the shared perception and visualization of scientific data.

Leading scientists, IT experts and creative technologists, artists, designers and education researchers are participating in the event. Short presentations will include Shirley M. Malcom [American Association for the Advancement of Science, AAAS] and Margaret Honey [New York Hall of Science] in conversation; Michael Benson, Kinetikon Pictures, and Jonathan Harris and Richard Saul Wurman.

In place of the familiar conference format, the event will feature a number of “encounter spaces,” where key individuals in differing fields have the benefit of each other’s perceptions of things including connections between ‘Data’, ‘Information’ and ‘Experience’ and the aspects of studio practice in design and visual thinking that could enrich aspects of science in education and research.

“STEM to STEAM pedagogy integrates a broad range of learning methods and learning ecologies from the empirical studies in the science lab, constructive critique in the design studio and creative discoveries in informal learning settings,” said Pamela L. Jennings, Ph.D., Program Director, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, National Science Foundation. “Creativity and rigor are rewarded; the participation of women and underrepresented domestic minorities is broadened and STEM learning in formal and informal settings is transformed from ‘we have to learn’ to ‘we want to learn’.”

“When policymakers today talk about education and reform, it’s all about the STEM subjects. It’s about convergent thinking – problem solving by breaking it down. Instead, a divergent thinker takes an idea and looks to expand it, and to find new diverse ways to connect it,” said RISD President John Maeda. “You need both to create balance: combining STEM with the Arts to get STEAM. In the past 20 years, we’ve focused too much on technology innovation. Art and design humanize those developments, and fuel true innovation, which ultimately leads to economic recovery and leadership. The National Science Foundation is attuned to the need for innovation, and through these continued collaborations we will advance STEM to STEAM in the United States of America.”

Jaime Marland
[email protected]

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