Join the movement changing STEM Education into STEAM Education

Decades ago the U.S. public education system budget cuts meant the Arts were defunded and only STEM education (science, tech engineering and math) were fully funded to steer more students towards STEM.  Now research shows that idea did not work. Most U.S students still are not choosing to study for STEM-related jobs — the best paying careers of the future. In the meantime, if parents wanted to provide the Arts and bridge the budget gap, they had to raise money and coordinate instruction.

Now we know the best approach is to integrate the Arts into STEM education — the STEAM education movement. I call it STEAM recreational education because it invites creative play back into learning and that attracts and retains more students to STEM subjects. The performing and visual Arts are innately fun and reach diverse and also vulnerable students that other subjects don’t. The design process sparks, sustains and spurs ongoing creativity and passion for STEM work. STEAM is needed because US firms still mostly hire abroad for top tech talent today, since there are just not enough US students qualified for lucrative in-demand STEM-related jobs.

If U.S. citizens aren’t trained to create the next most important technologies — who will create them, and what will they create? And what will they do with what they create?


In-school and out-of-school—every single day— children who get the opportunity to create, perform, learn about and experience the arts in all forms, including dance, music, theatre, and visual arts, gain the advantage of developing advanced essential skills:

– Creativity, imagination and innovation
– Problem solving and critical thinking
– Communication and collaboration
– Academic achievement
– School, social and civic engagement

Too much research to list here, shows the arts help students to learn these essential skills and abilities — and the benefits are greatest for low-income and at-risk students.  Yet, students who would benefit the most are least likely to have access to the arts due the lack in our public education system.

A focus on STEM in our public education system (Science, Tech, Engineering and Math) has been a priority due to the need to prepare our children for the types of jobs in that will be available in the future.  There are so many reasons that it is great that we focus on enhancing STEM education, but unfortunately public education was a casualty of funding other national priorities and drastic budget cutbacks over the last 20 years. As a result, we have systematically de-funded the arts from public education all across the USA.

Research traces creativity to right brain thinking.  Let’s get back to engaging the whole brain again, and integrate the ARTs back into public education even as we keep STEM subjects priority.  The arts nurture the right brain thinking necessary for innovation.

Experts are coming to the same conclusion under different names including STEAM or TEAMS — but the main idea is the same.  It is a movement about transforming practices in education that unify knowing and doing, theory and application. It is gaining momentum as more and more Americans are hearing about it.


STEM Education is about learning in the context of solving real world problems or creating new opportunities—the pursuit of innovation.

• Engaging students from preschool through college and beyond in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

• Exciting students about pursuing STEM careers by integrating technology and engineering into existing science and mathematics curriculum while developing technical and personal skills.

• Developing problem-based learning opportunities for all students to develop critical skills.


STEAM Education adds the ART back in, it is about:

• Inspiring students to “think out of the box” and creatively think to solve real-world problems using the tools provided to them.

• Preparing students for 21st century challenges by providing opportunities for students to ask questions, collaborate and innovate through core standards.

• Teaching students how to apply concepts by designing hands-on projects to demonstrate their understanding of science, technology, engineering, and art through literacy and mathematics.

• Emphasize the wonder of art and science as Human endeavors.

• Bring the coding and elements to life with beauty, humor, creative design.


Harvey White, Chairman, (SHW)2 Enterprises  expresses the importance of the Arts to whole brain education, our youth, country and economic future more completely and eloquently than I ever could, in his white paper — check it out:    [Excerpt:

“Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, summed up this need for innovation to drive our future when he predicted what is now already occurring.“The jobs in the greatest demand in the future don’t yet exist and will require workers to use technologies that have not yet been invented to solve problems that we don’t yet even know are problems.” …

“The future of the US economy rests on its ability to be a leader in the innovation that will be essential in creating the new industries and jobs that will be the heart of our new economy.  … K-12 education needs to be revamped… Finding the “fact” is no longer the need – the need is how to use the facts.

 In today’s competitive world our schools need to teach not how to find facts but rather what to do with them.  We must teach our students how to synthesize, how to inter-relate, how to build systems and processes based on the acquired facts, and how to question individual facts by seeing how they fit with more complex constellations of facts.  We need to teach how to deal with ambiguities and nuances – how to think creatively and how to construct or deal with abstract issues.   …These are the skills that build a base for creativity and teach innovation. The rote learning of facts, that are soon forgotten, but that students know can easily be reacquired (Googled) if ever needed, is not consistent with what either students or business need to be successful in today’s world. 

 The whole brain is needed to “teach” creativity and innovation. There are numerous studies, writings and confirmation that the use of the whole brain fosters and strengthens creativity and innovation such as Daniel Pink’s book – A Whole New Mind, subtitled Why Right Brained People Will Rule the Future.  In it he writes we are moving from the Information Age (powered by the logical, sequential and analytical left side of the brain) to a “Conceptual Age” (powered by the inventive, empathetic and big picture skill right side of the brain).  …

The “left” side of our brain is the logical side and supports the of learning facts and deducing logical answers while the “right” side deals with perceptual thinking and supports creative and instinctive thinking.  He writes that science and technology aspire to clean, clear answers to problems (as elusive as those answers might be).  The humanities address ambiguity, doubt and skepticism – essential underpinnings in today’s complex and diverse and turbulent world.   …

Arts use the right side of the brain but have recently been stripped out of the public education system by multiple budget cuts leaving the US with mainly a “half a brain” system.  Arts need to be returned to the national curricula where it was for the years leading up to our more prosperous years. …

Countries around the world are making creativity a national priority. …. to tie it to the real issue – the national economy and jobs. British schools are revamping curricula – from science to foreign language – to emphasize idea generation.  The EU designated 2009 as its Year of Creativity with conferences on the neuroscience of creativity, teacher training and instituting problem-based learning programs – curricula driven by real world inquiry.  China is undergoing education reform to extinguish the drill-and-kill teaching style and to move to a problem-based learning approach. …

The refocused system must move from one that primarily requires memorization of facts and rote learning and is measured by standardized test scores, i.e., primarily a left brain focused curricula. It must again include right brain subjects such as arts, which have systematically been stripped out of the curricula on the basis that “we can’t afford them” – actually the reverse is true we need them. …

Teachers will need to teach our students to “think” – not memorize. Our current system’s failure is also marked by very costly high dropout rates resulting from the current “drill and kill” approach.  Instead of having trained and educated Americans who would pay taxes and work in our future industries our governments pay to cover the lifetime costs of welfare and medical services.   The social and societal costs are also great since many of these people, being unemployable, end up with criminal or drug records with the associated government covered costs. …

If we make only piecemeal “improvements” we will lose the politicians and neither the government nor business will fund the refocusing of the education system.  Our economy will falter – unemployment will stay high and our competitors will increase their leverage on our financial system and our role in the world as both an economic and moral leader will lessen.  …

We need to start this public education program immediately – gathering media, marketing, industry, education, and government personnel to prepare the message and to attract the right spokespeople from those segments along with well-regarded thought leaders and personalities to deliver it.  “

 Excerpt] — for entire white paper , refer to: See –  Harvey White Chairman (SHW)2 Enterprises Suite 110 – 2223 Avenida de la Playa La Jolla, CA 92037. 858/729-0442 phone 858/729-0105 fax 619/890-8951 mobile.  



In addition to our education system, let’s make it easier and more convenient for kids, parents and families to seek out and choose  the best STEAM recreational opportunities.

As we integrate the Arts, the right brain, back into STEM education, let the “how, when, where and why” of practicing and playing with it, allow our youth to have fun with it at school and home and leisure, so cultural attitudes, skills and habits develop organically.

Visual and graphic arts stir the imagination of things never seen or thought before, tease out new connections, and stretch memory and attention to nurture creativity. Creativity brings code and algorithms to life in innovative ways.

Performing arts methods are rowdy — learning in-motion, walking around and out-loud, improves memory, public speaking and empathy, enhancing physical and mental health. Performing something or providing a presentation venue for introducing innovations, brings inventions to new audiences in an exciting way.

Collaborative dance and musical arts nurture analytical thinking, interpreting new content as sound, social rhythm, observation, self-awareness and harmony.  This improves social connectedness and harmony, as people learn to stay in tune with each other emotionally, and improvise to accommodate each others differences.

While we are at it, at home and in the communities, find ways to Sportify STEAM activities recreationally to spread the spirit, fun, pride and personal growth that a team experience encourages.  Adopt the club, street, neighborhood or school team model for convenient, community active access everywhere.   Some level of competition is a natural incentive and socially fun for all.

Find ways to Gamify STEAM education learning with fun tactics to record and reward progress, encourage small, targeted and frequent daily “play” (practice), and use mobile apps to make training recreational.  Choose apps and games wisely — rather than violent games, encourage industry and incentivize production and choice of games that develop these skills. Both will encourage our kids to be moving around and healthy, social, and maximize opportunities to continue play/practice on the go.

The rest of the best competitive countries are investing aggressively in ways to develop creativity, we need to pay attention to the trend because their graduates are now walking away with more U.S top paying jobs. To change our culture we need to equip our own youth to compete, land the best jobs, and enjoy national economic security.

A growing number of experts are interpreting and growing this movement. I will add to  this page and reference them, in posting more information here as time goes on.

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