What is STEAM education?

One of the most important challenges for education in Latin America is to move from a model that prioritizes memory, repetition and reading of history books to one that trains creative students, capable of relating concepts and systematizing their own ideas; an educational system that also provides students with tools that allow them to interact with new technologies, as well as to recreate their culture and their knowledge about the reality in which they live, which is fundamental to form a critical and participatory citizenship. According to the guidelines of the educational system that we all know, when a child begins his school age the dynamics he faces is a learning based on memorizing and repeating the information provided to him by the teacher. This model is transmitted every year and is reinforced with exams that serve to pass school or high school.

On the other hand, I would like to remind you that this year marks the 51st anniversary of the launch of LOGO, the first programming language for schools. Many of you remember, right? Well, others are very young and could not see it. But the theme is that, this language was designed with didactic purposes, its characteristics allowed students to learn programming in schools from very early ages with a double objective: to learn more effectively certain subjects (for example, mathematics) and develop a series of skills such as computational thinking. In addition, it offered support for managing files and lists.

The mathematician Seymourd Papert, was one of the creators of the programming language LOGO (and its emblematic turtle), was ahead of his time and spoke of a future where children would use computers as instruments to learn. A personal device that, for example, replaced pencil and paper? In those days this was transformed into a science fiction novel. However, more than half a century later, his predictions would come true. Computers, tablets and smartphones would become allies of education.

In this way and without a doubt, Papert, like other brilliant minds, were the ones who set the foundations for STEAM education. They are the abbreviations that identify the disciplines Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, that is, science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. Traditionally, the focus of these scientific and technological areas was focused on STEM, since a few years ago, art was incorporated to generate innovation and creativity in processes.

Nowadays in the educational and training field the increase of multidisciplinary projects based on the teaching of these subjects is observed. Undoubtedly, they allow incorporating curricular knowledge of subjects such as plastic arts, science, physics, chemistry, mathematics, technology ... as well as working on specific competences, attitudes and behaviors such as teamwork, digitalization, initiative or decision making .

These classroom projects can be powered by tools such as gamification, robotics and educational programming, used by teachers and students as a complement to these subjects where a project-oriented approach can be given.

Innovation in STEAM disciplines comes from the sum of art to the traditional design of teaching that has been carried out in the last 20 years in schools, since it generates students a vocation for experimentation and practice.

In addition, in a world in which a large percentage of current jobs did not exist, children must learn to deal with new challenges with this knowledge to provide innovative solutions to the life that surrounds them at this time and in the future. In this way, its main characteristic is practical training where students work through experimentation.

The objectives of STEAM are basically to integrate art and design into scientific training with the objective that students acquire digital skills to successfully develop in the new knowledge society. This approach represents a differential value in the innovation space in which from now on we will have to move and an exponential advance for this industry 4.0 and the new works of the future. For example, today we see it with data scientists (Big Data or data mining), whose profile must be multidisciplinary. It is not enough that they are mathematicians, they have to know programming, know the business, have a visionary character ...

For this reason, it is very important to introduce and strengthen the STEAM teachings in our educational system from primary school and to continue learning new disciplines and unlearning the traditional ways of teaching permanently in this 21st century. In this way, teachers and managers must promote those conditions that promote the creative abilities of students, who nowadays not only learn in the classroom, but also with their Smartphone and the computer individually.

Why is STEAM important?

To promote a culture of scientific thinking and to inspire students, future citizens, to use evidence-based reasoning for decision making. It is also vital to ensure that the student acquires confidence and knowledge, in addition to developing skills that allow him to participate actively in an increasingly complex world.

In the same way, it is essential to develop competences for problem solving and innovation, as well as analysis and critical thinking. It serves to inspire students of all ages and talents to aspire to a scientific or innovative career and, in addition, provides companies in general (public or private) with qualified people with the necessary knowledge to encourage innovation.

There are some examples of projects and good practices that promote a scientific science education, which can provide ideas for new initiatives. Interesting examples are the Scientix Project promoted by the European Union, which promotes and supports collaboration among teachers, researchers in the field of education, lawmakers and other teaching professionals of the STEAM disciplines at European level, and also offering tools such as SMART Amp for the classroom that encourages collaboration to work on projects, where teachers get information about who makes their contribution each day.

In Finland, the aim of the LUMA Center is to inspire and motivate children and young people in mathematics, science and technology through the latest science and technology education methods and activities. The LUMA Center shares the national concern about the level of competence in mathematics, science and technology in general, and about the insufficient number of professionals in these fields.

I believe that there are few initiatives that seek to encourage the creative spirit of students by motivating them through the use of new tools to acquire knowledge in these disciplines and digitize education. In Costa Rica, for example, there are efforts of the startUp Alt + Q for high school students to learn Chemistry in a playful way through video games, in a way that allows teachers to monitor student progress through of an intelligent platform that is constantly sending you information with the evolution of your students. We have worked with this startUp to achieve position and promote knowledge through this type of media, your next step will be in Mathematics.

Digitization according to the Organization of the United Nations

Undoubtedly, digitization in education is one of the great challenges that the A poses, as the new way to fight inequality and help many people out of poverty and receive training that allows them to access a better level of life.

The challenge is a challenge, since according to the data collected by the UN, many countries considered to have very limited access to the Internet and technological devices that can be used in educational programs. In some African countries such as Mali, Mauritania, Sudan, Tunisia, Chad among others, they do not even reach 40%, because of the large number of regions and villages for which there is no official data recorded.

For this reason in Latin America, we must promote the integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the field of education, which is accompanied by new tools which will help students to face the main challenges that countries have. of the region in educational matters. This is how the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) established it in its report in 2013. The question that arises is ... What are the governments of the Region doing? Do you know strong initiatives that are not isolated to promote disciplines such as STEAM in the Region? We have a commitment with our children to ensure they have the appropriate tools to face the change in new technologies and professions that will require thinking differently leaving aside the traditional educational system.


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