STEM to STEAM: Add Art + Design to the Picture
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Nowadays it's common knowledge that the U.S. is facing competition from global powers such as India and China. During these times of economic uncertainty it seems as if the only way we can gain a global advantage is through innovation. For the sake of popular culture, consider innovation as “trending” and creativity as the “secret sauce” to American progress.
Let's take a moment to appraise the most significant breakthroughs of the past and present to fully comprehend the full extent to which innovation, with the aid of art and design, has played a substantial part in economic prosperity.
Design is at the very core of Jobs' philosophy. From the overall design of the Macbook to the make-up of its motherboard, Jobs controlled and perfected the sleek design not just because of his perfectionism but also because he truly believed simplicity for his designs.
From the logo and color scheme to the cozy layouts of the coffee shops, Starbucks is the epitome of a well-planned execution of design strategy.
Today, there is a denim design for every personality, trend, and need. No item of clothing is more American nor ubiquitous than the blue jeans with its simple and adaptable design, invented by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss.
Innovating an intuitive solution for her frustrated hands with a simple design: double-chain shoulder to strap, Coco Chanel revolutionized the purse accessory.
For innovation we look to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math --STEM programming; however, there doesn't seem to be much innovation in that. The new-and-improved, the cutting-edge, the revolutionary all go hand in hand with art and design. The concept behind STEM is well-intentioned; however, it's simply not complete. It doesn't inspire, energize or engage the youth whom it is ultimately intended to benefit; hence our nation is no longer leading the pack of global powers.
With the prevalence of even more start-ups and an emphasis on aesthetic appeal, art and design have begun to make an even larger impact on our economy in the 21st century like science and technology did in the last century. The flexible thinking, risk taking, and creative problem-solving techniques taught through art and design are crucial to our nations' innovators in today's dynamic world. It is for this necessity that it is critical to integrate Art + Design in to STEM programming. Artists and scientists both ask substantial questions; both designers and engineers provide inspired solutions. Together they are more powerful than apart!
STEAM is a movement advocated by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and adopted widely by institutions, corporations, and individuals. The importance of design principal in innovation is mentioned in several media sources such as Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, and Huffington Post. In Rhode Island, Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced House Resolution 319, which "Expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that adding art and design into federal programs that target Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, encourages innovation and economic growth in the United States." Government agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts are working together and are both behind STEAM as well.
STEAM's objectives are to transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM, encourage integration of Art + Design in K-20 education, and to influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation
Artists and designers have a passion, a drive, to express themselves, to leave their legacies that inspire future generations; this gives the technology in their hands a purpose and lets the innovation truly come alive.
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