Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Putting Some STEAM into STEM"

Why is it beneficial to incorporate arts, music, and theater into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics? Because it engages students and turns the "work" of imitation and memorization into the "play" of discovery and creative problem-solving - or so say presenters from the MASS Cultural Council, the Flying Cloud Institute, and Arts I Learning. They contend that the arts can enhance the study of core subjects by applying strategies that correspond to the different learning styles of varying ethnicities. Also, allowing cross-curricular projects brings appreciation for different disciplines to students who are more single focused. (For example, a chemistry class that, provided with an appropriate framework, creates glazes that art students apply to ceramics resulting in learning a real-world application to science frameworks while allowing art students to use the product and ultimately saving the art department the money they would have used to purchase the glaze.) The biggest challenge - finding the resources to train teachers about how to implement this strategy. The MASS Cultural Council has a grant program to help, and although applications have closed for this year, districts can explore this idea for a potential application next year.