Concept and Definition of STEAM

STEAM Key Term 1: Education Based on Scientific Technology

STEAM can be defined as ‘education for increasing students’ interest and understanding in scientific technology and for growing STEAM literacy based on scientific technology and the ability to solve problems in the real world.’ We have introduced new teaching and learning methods to allow more students to enter the field of scientific technology. As STEAM creates a framework with concepts and principles related to scientific technology, based on science and mathematics, and induces students to solve problems connected to the real world through engineering and technology, it must also include content related to science and mathematics and let these disciplines play a role as major subjects.
For a similar purpose, the U.S. and U.K. are implementing STEM education. However, STEM education, which is promoted by the U.S. government in an effort to secure excellent talents in the four fields of science (S), technology (T), engineering (E), and mathematics (M), is in many cases individually executed and focused on each of the four fields. Recently, the movement to enhance creativity by adding the elements of humanities and art (A) to STEM is gaining attention.

Though STEAM was created to increase interest in scientific technology, some pointed out that it excessively emphasizes this interest and may neglect exploration and understanding of the principles of scientific technologies themselves. That is the case when only a simple concept introduction and activities are done to perform the teaching of science materials by connecting them to music and fine arts. Another improper case is to use scientific technology merely as a tool in a class focused on the arts.

The goal of STEAM classes must not stay solely in regards to the level of interest. It must focus on letting students understand the principles of scientific technology and reach the achievement standards of science and mathematics.

STEAM Key Term 2: Ability to Solve Problems in the Real World

STEAM is unique in that students find solutions to real world problems they encounter on a daily basis. Of course, some parts connected to the real world are also in their textbooks. However, in school, students have to learn knowledge and concepts already established by someone according to a hierarchy and order. Lastly, in many cases, teachers explain these concepts by drawing a line between the textbooks and the real world, making it hard to maintain the interest of students.
You cannot arouse the curiosity and interest of students simply by asking them to memorize facts from a textbook and solve a limited variety of problems. Students need to understand why they are being asked to retain specific knowledge and where they can use it. When students come to realize the meaning and purpose of their learning, they can increase their abilities to solve problems in the real world through the process of designing solutions and exploring and testing them for themselves. STEAM has introduced technological and engineering elements to connect the real world and increase the level of understanding in science and mathematics.
The programs developed in 2012, which represent the early stages of the introduction of STEAM, share the common element of being classes focused on themes for approximately ten lessons. STEAM has actively tried to integrate subjects, with a focus on connecting the subjects of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the arts, and with a special emphasis given to specific themes. However, in many cases, it was difficult to naturally integrate them, as STEAM elements are connected by first selecting a specific theme and then finding the subjects and units to fit this theme.
STEAM aims to achieve natural integration focusing on problems in the real world. It does not start from a specific subject, theme, or single fixed concept, and is conducted by composing the context with the use of materials available in the real world.

Most real world problems cannot be solved with knowledge of a single subject. They are complex issues that can be solved only by connecting and employing useful knowledge gathered from various fields of study. In order to solve real world problems, integration is naturally implemented in the process of using knowledge from various subjects. This is why STEAM requires the inclusion of two or more subjects or elements among S, T, E, A, and M. Education that considers and explores problems from various angles to focus on finding a proper solution cannot help but use various kinds of elements. Integration in STEAM is not a purpose but a means. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon in the process of accomplishing a goal.

STEAM Classes…

1. Must include content from science and mathematics or must focus on science and mathematics in order to increase the interest and understanding of scientific technology.
2. Must include two or more subjects or elements among S, T, E, A, and M in order to solve real world problems.
3. Must be conducted with the STEAM learning standards framework, such as through the presentation of situations, creative design, and emotional touch.


High Scores but No Confidence in Science and Mathematics

The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) examines and compares the educational achievements of 9-year-old and 13-year-old students in various countries to issue a TIMSS report every four years. In South Korea, the subjects are fourth graders in primary schools and eighth graders in secondary schools. South Korean students always place in the highest group in terms of achievement in science and mathematics. In the TIMSS report for 2011, executed in 42 countries, secondary school eighth graders in South Korea ranked third in the world in science and first in mathematics. Compared with the results for 2007, the students’ achievements in science had gone up one spot from fourth, and their position in mathematics rose from second to first.

However, South Korean students have failed to escape from the lowest group in the evaluation of interest and self-confidence. In the 2011 results, South Korean students’ interest in science sat at around 11%, which is far behind the international average of 35%. Their interest in mathematics was 8%, which is also much lower than the international average, which is 26%. How is it that our students have achievement rates in the highest group while their interest and self-confidence are lagging behind in the middle and lowest groups?

Many people point to the country’s schooling methods that focus on unilateral knowledge delivery and rote repetition as one of the main causes. In South Korea, it is not common for a student showing high results to voluntarily demonstrate an interest in science and mathematics. STEAM was developed to settle such issues in science and mathematics classes.

In 2011, steps from the elementary and middle miracles, including the pole support system ‘Second’ scientific and technical personnel Development Assistance Plan (’11 – ’15) and the Elementary and Secondary Math ‘was established in the first phase of the plan scientific and technical personnel training challenges of science education has been strengthened, including for the first time, STEAM education Arts (a) fusing elements of Korean talent STEAM education began in adding.
Depending on the change and the contribution of creative science and technology personnel for the added value of the country is increasing, it reveals a systematic response is required for scientific personnel training and secure to lead the industry of the future.
To this end, we are expanding the scope of the project life cycle, including elementary and secondary education.
This is the second project is one of 15 projects focused directly strengthening of future STEAM education of.


Learning Standards Framework of STEAM Classes

‘Learning Standards Framework,’ the Backbone of STEAM

The ‘learning standards framework’ is presented to clearly and efficiently achieve the goals of STEAM. This framework is divided into the three steps of the presentation of situations, creative design, and emotional touch, and is implemented consecutively.

Step 1: ‘Presentation of Situations’ to Let Students Recognize Problems as Their Own Issue

The ‘presentation of situations’ step exhibits the problem to be solved by connecting it to the real world in order for students to recognize the problem as their own issue, and explains the situation to include the whole program.
Also in the introductory part of conventional learning, teachers commonly used a device for inducing motivation. However, STEAM is different in the scope of the presentation of situations.
The situations presented in the introductory part of STEAM must be composed of contents that cover the entire process of a class. The more familiar the difficulties or problems presented are to students, the higher their desire to solve the problem will become.
These examples simultaneously increase immersive learning and the will to solve problems by establishing connections to situations that students frequently experience. You must remember to check if the question or problem given to students in the step of the presentation is later solved through the process of creative design and emotional touch.

Step 2: ‘Creative Design’ for Discovering How to Solve the Problem on One’s Own

The step of ‘creative design’ is made up of the process of thinking and developing the best solution within various limitations appearing in a real world problem.
The key to creative design is to let students reflect their own ideas developed through their creativity in classes and activities selected to obtain a variety of results. Problems are not easily solved by only taking a scientific perspective. Most scientific knowledge is based on completed theories which are not proper for solving problems in the real world.
Conventional science has played the role of satisfying intellectual curiosity about how the world works, while modern science is asked to present solutions for the challenges that humankind currently faces or is expected to face in the future. The creative design method of STEAM, which reflects this situation, can be said to be closer to the field of ‘engineering’ than to ‘science.’
How different are science and engineering? Science is a study that presents an answer to a question of ‘why?’
On the other hand, engineering gives answers to the question of ‘how?’ An engineer thinks in a process to find solutions by asking questions like ‘How should we design an engine for a vehicle to run with less fuel?’ or ‘How can we put more data into a hard disc without increasing its size?’ or ‘How can we give someone an injection without causing pain?’

Find Your Own Way, Not a Single Determined Answer

In many cases, the experiments presented in textbooks have a single determined answer. This is because the learning aims not to let students solve given problems on their own, but to check that they have properly learned the material. Methods of experimentation where solutions are gently explained deny the opportunities for students to solve problems using their own creativity.
Here, the process of creative design is needed. While looking for the solution to a problem, students come to materialize their ideas and express them actively through discussions. When they face a more complex problem, they integrate their knowledge in various studies and, in the case of group activities, find a clue to the solution through cooperation. Here lies the essence of what makes STEAM greatly different from conventional classes.

Do Not Deviate Greatly from Students’ Level and the Subject Scope

You must caution yourself against setting a scope that deviates too much from the curriculum or selecting a problem that is too hard to solve at the students’ level, because you may have to make a manual of the design process for students to imitate in order to succeed in the program.
You must not choose a tool that is hard to deal with at the students’ level, either. If students come to focus on how to use the tool when they should actually be conducting creative design, they may end up failing to be immersed in the task at hand.
In order to successfully lead in creative design, teachers must recognize the scientific grounds for a given problem and prepare a broad variety of solutions. In a STEAM class, the teacher must concentrate not on presenting a specific method to solve the problem but on guiding the directions for a creative design to head in the right direction.

Step 3: ‘Emotional Touch’ for Challenging a New Problem

Emotional touch is an essential element for providing interest and motivation to students. If students succeed in solving a problem by recognizing the given problem, connecting it to their own situations, and uncovering clues on their own through creative design, they will come to foster their abilities to be immersed in solving problems and gain the courage to take on new challenges. The effects of emotional touch is increased only when teachers help students achieve continuous thinking and the will to act, not just with feeling the benefits of STEAM classes.
In conventional classes, however, the main provision of motivation for learning is simply a tool used to prepare for connections with different content. In STEAM classes, the element of emotional touch influences the whole process of a class. Emotional touch arise from the presentation of a real world problem related to the learning content, and the students who have undergone emotional touch come to examine whether the problem leads to another situation in the real world, not just by recognizing the necessity of learning. Through this process, students can move on to the next step, that of creative design.
After succeeding in solving the problem, students come to display their passion and will to learn even extending to related matters thanks to their new sense of accomplishment. At last, emotional touch complete the virtuous circle for students to challenge and take on a new activity.
Virtuous circle-type self-directed learning may seem similar to the affective domains, which are presented as educational goals in traditional pedagogy, but it is different in that it holds a different perspective. Emotional touch allow students to be engaged to provoke an impressive learning effect where they come to be touched and emotionally connected to their learning. It does not focus on the perspective as an educational goal, but looks at providing the proper kind of learning experience to a student.


STEAM Class Checklist – Is My Class a True STEAM Class?

Even if you have identified the basic concepts and key elements of STEAM, it is not easy to determine if various school programs in operation are in fact true STEAM classes. When teachers design a STEAM class, they should be careful to consult the following checklist to determine whether each of the STEAM elements is properly checked and reflected.

Category Element Details
Purpose of STEAM Education Nurturing Talents for Integration Is the class appropriate for the purpose of nurturing talents for integration?
Concept of STEAM Education Increasing Students’ Interest Is the class designed to increase the students’ interest in scientific technology?
Connection to the Real World Is the theme related to scientific technology in the real world?
Cultivation of Integrated Thinking Abilities Is the program designed to cultivate the integrated thinking abilities of students?
Learning Standards Framework of STEAM Context Presentation Connections to the Real World Does the class present problematic contexts for students to solve in the real world?
Interest and Immersion Is it a specific context that can arouse the interest of students and is appropriate for their level?
Creative Design Creativity Is the process of creative design clearly revealed for the students to think about how they will solve the problem?
Focusing on Students Is the class made up of activities focusing on play and experiences, and is there a process for the students to personally devise and think about the issues at hand?
Results(Ideas) Is the class designed for various results (or ideas) to be presented by each student (or group) as a result of creative design?
Use of Tools Is the class designed for students to solve problems using devices from the real world?
Emotional Touch Solving Problems Are the contents presented in the context presentation step for students to feel the joys of success in solving a problem?
Learning through Cooperation Is the class designed for students to solve problems through cooperation in coming up with their results?
Spirit of Challenge Is the class guided for students to challenge new tasks through the process of solving problems?
Evaluation of STEAM Education Detailed Perspective Is it made to evaluate the experience of success for students having solved the problem?
Are various results (ideas) analyzed in the evaluation of the students?
Is the aim to conduct not a results-focused evaluation but rather an evaluation focusing on the process and its steps?