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.