Through our STEAM-based curriculum, students are introduced to principles of design thinking: how to use creativity to solve problems. Through design thinking, kids learn that there’s not always a right and a wrong answer. They develop skills in collaborating as teams. When they ask a question, we respond with a question; we want kids to think for themselves.
They develop soft skills: defending ideas, developing perseverance, learning how to think flexibly and interdependently, listening with empathy and understanding, and communicating with clarity and precision. They learn effective applications of technology and develop an understanding of when analog approaches are more appropriate.
The attrition rate in STEM fields is high—it’s a “leaky pipeline” that’s hurting American companies’ ability to recruit strong graduates into these complex fields. Research documents that by the time students reach fourth grade, a third of boys and girls have lost an interest in science. By eighth grade, almost 50 percent have lost interest or deemed it irrelevant to their education or future plans. At this point in the K–12 system, the STEM pipeline has narrowed to half. That means millions of students have tuned out or lack the confidence to believe they can do science (source: U.S News and World Report: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/08/29/stem-education--its-elementary).
STEAM Studio has demonstrated an ability to fill this education gap, both with innovative learning experiences for students and professional development for teachers. We base our curriculum on the book Design Thinking for Educators, Version 2. We follow a structured approach to generate and develop ideas, and we combine this with a unique interface with the professional world: our space in an architecture office.
Our society is entering the “age of innovation”—the “age of technology” is disappearing in the rearview mirror and design thinking is the next competitive advantage. We must reshape our educational system to respond. STEAM Studio provides a model for that future—a living, breathing prototype with exceptional results.