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In the 2011 State of the Union address, Barack Obama asked educators to prioritize STEM education. As a result, public and private sectors funded millions of dollars for education and programs that promoted science, math and technological innovation. While the STEM movement has filled students’ schedules with more math and science classes, it caused a marginalization of art programs and funding in schools.

According to the 2016 STEM Index by U.S. World News & World Report, the number of black students fell by roughly the same margin. Women’s interest in STEM also “decreased slightly” over the previous year. Could it be that the students lost interest and felt disconnected from their applications in the real world?

From STEM to STEAM

In order to help bridge the growing disparity between education and the changing needs of the job market, John Maeda, former president of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) believed that design-thinking and creativity are critical components to innovation. He campaigned to add the “A” for art and design into STEM curriculums — creating the movement known as STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education.

STEAM Education Can Empower Creatives and Promote Collaboration Across the Disciplines

  • Adding art and design to STEM research will enhance US economic competitiveness
  • Artists and designers can effectively communicate complex data and scientific information to multiple stakeholders
  • Art and design in STEM education promotes critical thinking
  • Art and design provide real solutions for our everyday lives, distinguish American products in a global market place.
  • Design is increasingly becoming a key differentiator for technology startups and products.
    Adobe and Forrester Consulting found that 82% of companies believe there is a strong connection between creativity and business results. As a matter of fact, companies that actively foster creative thinking outperform their rivals in revenue growth, market share and competitive leadership, according to the report.

Role-Model of Innovation

Many well-known innovators are creative beasts. They have the ability to draw people from many different disciplines to share the same sense of vision or an idea. To me, Steve Jobs was the most important figure in the history of design. Jobs felt that the simplicity of a design should be linked to make products easy to use.

“Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs

Design + Critical Thinking = Solving Real-World Probz

It’s not about giving equal or more to STEM or arts, it is to incorporate and blend together design-related skills with critical-thinking processes in real-world learning. Driving interest in STEAM can encourage natural curiosity— allowing students to ask and seek answers. Art and design add the ability to look at a situation from new and creative angles and communicate concepts and information clearly.

Take Action and Support STEAM Education


Add yourself and/or your organization to stemtosteam.org global map to show decision-makers and others where STEAM is happening, what’s working and how the network is growing.

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March 13, 2019

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