7 Sep 2021 STEAM / STEM

Why are we called “STEAMWORKS“?

What is STEAM and why have we built our workshops around it? We’ll tell you how we incorporate art into STEM and why it’s so important.

“What does STEAM mean?” We get asked that a lot.

You’re probably more familiar with STEM, it’s what most teachers and parents have heard of. Science, technology, engineering and maths are a family of subjects which are all focused on problem solving and asking “why?”

So why have we thrown an ‘A’ in? By providing an artist outlet in STEM workshops we can inspire students to be ambitious, inventive and engaged in science and engineering.

What does STEAM mean?

STEAM means science, technology, engineering, art, maths and making. It’s about bringing fun and creativity into the classroom by adding art to STEM subjects.

We often forget that STEM is already an extremely creative field. Most of history’s greatest discoveries emerged from random experimentation or by accident!

That’s why art well and truly deserves a place under the STEAM banner. Without it, our passion for learning and solving mysteries would be lost. Bringing design and creativity into traditional lessons allows students to show their innovative flair whilst leaning the basics of science and tech.

Why we’ve made STEM creative

Consistent early efforts are essential to show children of all backgrounds that they can pursue science careers. That’s why we’re making every child’s first experience of STEM exciting, inspirational and memorable.

STEAMWORKS helps schools and communities provide moments for kids to get excited about science. We firmly believe that STEM is creative and provides opportunities to make and do amazing things!

Timetable space is always at a premium in primary schools. Reducing time spent on STEM education means children risk missing out on valuable science experiences.

Science in UK primary schools has been relegated in recent years. Since the start of the pandemic in particular, many teachers have been concerned about the over-prioritisation of maths, English and phonics at the expense of science.

STEM learning has been reduced to an average 1 hour 24 minutes a week according to the Wellcome Trust . That’s well below the recommended 2 hours or more.

Since science teaching time is more valuable it must be spent more wisely. Research into primary school science education shows that to maintain student motivation, it’s crucial for for lessons to have a sense of scientific endeavour, and that both creativity and curiosity are central to that.

Children are naturally curious and want to how things work work in the world around them. Proper, regular science teaching serves that urge and improves their problem solving skills, readying them for life after education.

Helen Bell, our Managing Director, says: “the rapid progression in technology means that many of the jobs in the future will be in industries that don’t even exist yet. So it’s crucial that children of today develop creative and transferable skills.”

We know that children learn best whilst playing and exploring, so if we want to help them gain valuable transferable skills, we need to do it the way that suits them best.

What STEAMWORKS does to make science exciting

A summer workshop showing with one of our STEAM activities

In a STEAMWORKS workshop, we convince our students that anyone can be a scientist. We want to get away from the idea that STEM is all about moustachioed old boffins in lab coats. That means actively catering to young people’s excitable, inventive side in the classroom.

We make science exciting by embracing its unpredictability and experimentation. In our lava lamps or slime making workshops, for example, students are free to experiment with quantities of ingredients and methods. This can end in disastrous, messy and all-in-all hilarious mistakes!

Safe and interactive STEM workshops let children explore the real scientific ideas of observation-making and hypothesising without even realising it. We utilise multisensory teaching to make our lessons accessible for all. In workshops where a child can use more than one sense when they learn, students get more than one way to interact and connect with a subject.

One of our multisensory STEAM workshops where a child makes slime

Jacki Rowley is our senior consult and programme coordinator. Being from a drama and English teaching background, so knows exactly how to splice practicals into a STEM lesson plan.

We asked her how experience helps her plan STEAMWORKS’ creative workshops. She said: “being a primary school teacher for many years lead me to lots and lots of different jobs. I went to Sheffield Theatres as the education liaison officer.

“I wrote educational resources for theatre companies and I worked for a touring theatre companies, giving educational workshops for them in secondary schools. So it might seem that STEAMWORKS is a departure for me, but whilst it’s science and maths it’s still creative. This is still about children having lots of fun, it’s still very active and it’s still very engaging.”

Having people like Jacki in our amazing team means we’re always looking for new ways put self-expression into STEM activities.