By Ian Frantz
STEAM is the latest approach in education that aims to combine STEM, which is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, with The Arts and Humanities.STEAM is an education initiative created by the Rhode Island School of Design in the hopes of fostering true innovation by combining the ideas of scientists with those of artists. This initiative has made its way to Ohio and now has the support of the Ohio Department of Education.
There is talk within the program about how music is a form of mathematics and the art of photography aids in architecture.
STEAM has a strong presence in middle and high school education. In college, it has some difficulty finding ground due to the way college education is set up.
Wim Steelant, dean of the college of STEM at Youngstown State University, said the system allows the different disciplines to work together on campus.
“We already have an interdisciplinary collaboration here and it’s called YSU, there’s no need to give it a fancy name when we already have a great system” Steelant said.
Steelant said collaboration already exist on campus between STEM, the Colleges of Creative Arts and Communication and the Williamson College of Business Administration called Launch Lab.
“If you want to give it a name, this could be called BSTEAM. This whole thing allows students to learn new problem-solving techniques and access to advance manufacturing equipment like 3D printers.” Steelant said.
Robert Twomey, assistant professor in the Department of Art, explained how YSU benefits from these joint projects like Launch Lab.
“Some programs, like the Bachelor of Fine Arts program, is packed and doesn’t allow the students to explore all the options offered in a college experience. Having these disciplines blend together in classes that we offer and in groups outside of class can help,” Twomey said.
Twomey also said art is a type of critical thinking, which can help anyone, not just someone involved in STEM or the Arts.
“While there [are] societal values placed on these disciplines, everyone should investigate everything while they can. You would want a scientist to understand and relate to the society they are trying to improve rather than be a robot,” Twomey said.
Katy Howells, a Bachelor of Fine Arts major, talked about how music is like a type of calculus and how art and music theory started on objective truths and can be broken down like any other science.
“While music itself may be subjective, the foundation of it is based on objective truths. Music notes, measures and reading music is something that takes time to learn, much like solving equations.” Howells said.
Howells said these disciplines seem like opposites and the idea seems like an abstract thought, but the fact that the thought holds substance shows how these schools of thought can benefit everyone.