Preparing our kids for the 21st century involves exciting them about STEM education and making sure they are literate in science, technology, engineering and math. Many are asking that we put an “A” for the Arts into STEM education, making STEAM education the focus of 21st century learning.
That begs the question – does that mean that scientists, technologists, engineers and mathmeticians need to learn design, beauty, and music? Steve Jobs made Apple a success focusing on design. Dan Pink, in his book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, tells us that design is key to thriving in a future that belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic “right-brain” thinkers. Garr Reynolds,in Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery demonstrates how to seamlessly integrate design concepts into our something as mundane as a PowerPoint. This approach looks at STEM education still in terms of silos of education. It asks that students interested in technology, gifted in math and science, the students often labeled as geeks, that those students will benefit from classes in calligraphy, design, piano, and dance.
Or does putting the A in STEM mean that all students, even those in the arts, are meant to be immersed in this century’s needed STEM literacy? Are they learning the skills to use social media to connect with thousands, like Eric Whitaker in conducting a virtual choir, or the skills to story board, compose, enact and edit a light saber battle between with cello bows, or the skills to create a revoluntionary peer-to-peer music file sharing program like Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, the co-founders of Napster?
Careers and Education Programs in the above Info-graphic are a mash-up of STEM and Music, some thought provoking pictures of a future that folds together electronics, acoustical engineering, psychology, neuroscience, computer programming, and architecture with music.
A popular approach to physics was introduced several years ago at a music and STEM conference. It involves teaching an entire class the physics of pitch, frequency and resonance by building a guitar. A lesson plan can be found at Engineering Go For It site. The National Science Federation sponsors the STEM Guitar Project which provides innovative professional development to high school and community college faculty. Ruth Catchen recently posted a great museum shot of a guitar exhibit with STEM lessons and the Carnegie Science Center of Pittsburgh has announced GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World, the touring exhibition of The National GUITAR Museum, from June 16 through Sept. 30 that will include some STEM concepts.
The 21st century is bringing so many wonderful opportunities. Each, being new, requires a can do attitude that means we’re willing to learn new things and try new technology, master more than one talent and collaborate with others to mash together new expressions of beauty, mourn and celebrate the music composed and performed in the past and boldly lead music in new directions that builds a more just and beautiful world.