UCTV’s recently launched STEAM Channel is a platform for all things science, technology, engineering, arts and math. We sat down with the channel’s founding partner and director of K-16 Programs at UC San Diego Extension, Ed Abeyta, to learn more about the STEAM movement and how it impacts students, educators and parents.
UCTV: How did you get involved in the world of STEAM?
Ed Abeyta: STEAM became the framework for the creation of our K-16 division in 2010. It was inspired by Harvey White, co-founder of Qualcomm Inc., who believed the Arts (the creative skills) plus STEM are key for industry success. “STEM education is necessary but it is not sufficient – we must have STEAM education – our future is at risk otherwise.”
UCTV: Why STEAM and not STEM?
EA: STEM is based on skills generally using the left half of the brain and thus is logic driven. Much research and data shows that activities like Arts, which uses the right side of the brain supports and fosters creativity, which is essential to innovation. Clearly the combination of superior STEM education combined with Arts education (STEAM) should provide us with the education system that offers us the best chance for regaining the innovation leadership essential to the new economy.
UCTV: Why is STEAM so important for today’s students and teachers?
EA: There seems to be consensus that for the US to replace the lost jobs from the industrial sector we must create the new industries that will drive the future economies of the world – and that requires innovation. So we need to focus on examining some of the difference between what and how we “teach” today and what we need to change to effectively “teach” innovation. The underlying need is to refocus the system to teach innovation – not just facts.
UCTV: How is STEAM changing the way we think about education?
EA: STEAM is not about adding to the acronym, but instead adding to the relevancy of learning. As Vince Bertram, President and CEO, Project Lead The Way, Inc., noted “It’s about showing students how concepts relate to real-world situations and providing them with hands-on projects and problems that help them apply concepts in a new context. It’s about nurturing students’ curiosity and helping them develop creativity, problem solving and critical thinking skills.”
UCTV: Why should universities help lead the charge for STEAM in K-12?
EA: The core disciplines are beginning to merge. Visual Arts, Computer Science, and Engineering are working more closely to utilize expertise in each of their domains to solve problems. This mindset showcases what awaits the next generation at post-secondary institutions like UC San Diego.
UCTV: How can parents involve their children in STEAM education?
EA: At its heart, STEAM is about solving real-world problems. The world is going to need more and more graduates with the skills to identify problems, visualize solutions, design prototypes and implement solutions. Parents should seek every learning opportunity that incorporates practice based learning and challenge their children to continually think out of the box.
UCTV: What can viewers expect from the STEAM Channel in the coming months?
EA: The STEAM Channel will begin showcasing how STEAM is connected to research, policy, education, and industry. We will also seek to provide programming resources to enable parents, mentors and teachers to utilize our programming as a teaching platform.