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What is STEAM Education? Why is it Important?

STEAM Education is the hot topic for the decade. How did STEAM grow in such popularity in such a short time? Why is it so important for the future? How will my child benefit from STEAM Education?

What is STEAM Education?


STEM is a discipline that combines Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics into a single subject. 

STEM is a flexible and adaptable field that meets our worlds’ constant need for scientific, technological, social and economical innovation. Those who study STEM can contribute to many professional sectors such as healthcare workers, software engineers, architects and more!

Unlike traditional subjects, STEM is usually taught through an applied approach, such as hands-on experiments and simulation projects.

STEAM is nothing new but just STEM plus an ‘A’ (Arts), simple as that! It is a relatively new concept which was first suggested by scholar Georgette Yakman in 2006. 

As its components suggest, STEAM focuses not only on technical skills like problem-solving, but also on soft skills like conversation and creativity by cultivating kids’ artistic sense. In short, STEAM is like a progressed version of the original STEM education!


STEAM education around the world


Governments around the world have also pushed for the growth of STEAM Education. The UK and US have established organisations and legislation dedicated to promoting STEAM learning in schools. The Hong Kong government has incorporated STEAM into primary schools’ KLA (key learning areas).

However, there is still a shortage of STEAM talents globally. Less than 20% of US students pursue STEAM-related studies in university, even less so in HK. Less-than-ideal resource distribution and curriculum arrangements causes STEAM Education to be ineffective.



The Importance of STEAM Education


STEAM Education is important as it nurtures talent to meet an increasingly demanding field. The global technology and innovation sector is growing at rapid rates, and our ever-advancing world needs equally many bright minds to power new innovations.

On an individual level, childhood STEAM Education is especially beneficial since it teaches kids how the world works, inspiring them to be curious and motivated learners at an early age. 

Other than that, most well-paying  STEAM careers require at least a bachelors’ degree in related subjects. This is why it is even more important for children to be exposed to STEAM Education from a young age!


6 Benefits of STEAM Education

Kids learning about viruses and bacteria


1. Critical Thinking


Developing critical thinking skills is a core objective of STEAM Education. Instead of spoon feeding (memorizing instead of understanding), your child will have to actively learn and solve problems based on their understanding on the subject. This encourages logical thinking and prepares them well for the workplace.

2. Fostering Creativity 


Creativity is another important component of STEAM Education. Just as how our world has finite resources and infinite problems, STEAM Education challenges your child to solve problems with limited resources in order to make them think out-of-the-box. 

3. Enhance Communication


Communication is an important skill in STEAM and life in general. STEAM Education trains up your child’s communication skills as they have to discuss complex concepts to their peers. STEAM Education encourages your child to become active listeners and open to others’ ideas, a crucial skill that will last them a lifetime.


4. Encourages hands-on learning


On top of it all, learning STEAM can be very fun! STEAM involves lots of real-world application — that means that your child will be very hands-on, learning through experiments and projects. This type of learning style (learn by doing) encourages children to actively seek knowledge on their own, preparing them to become curious life-long learners. 

5. Be Future-ready


STEAM is the subject of the future. Children learn STEAM through research and inquiry, which is a valuable skill in our information age. Your child will be prepared with skills and scientific mindset to be able to succeed in the future.

6. Introduces STEM careers 


Aside from the cognitive benefits, STEAM Education also introduces children to interesting STEAM careers at an early age. Your child will find themselves in an ever-growing world of career opportunities for them in the future. In our world where many STEAM positions are in high demand, this may play a positive role in guiding their career paths in the future.

Kids listening to scientist talk about his lab
Scientist at Prenetics explaining how the lab works


Careers in STEAM


STEAM is a rapidly growing field with an acute shortage of workers. In the UK alone, there is a shortage of 2+ million workers in STEAM-related fields. In the meantime, countless new jobs are being created everyday to power the latest innovations.

According to a report in 2018, the demand for STEAM jobs in the world would be related to:

Computing - 71%

Traditional Engineering - 16%

Physical sciences - 7%

Life sciences - 4%

Mathematics - 2%

It makes sense that many computing jobs are needed when we are surrounded everyday with digital technologies. This field deals with anything from the smartphone apps we use everyday to powering electrical vehicles and everything in between. 

Other STEAM fields are equally as important. They also create innovative technologies that we use to improve our quality of life and prepare for the future. Whether it is to solve climate change, prevent pandemics, creating new healthcare solutions, STEAM plays a crucial role in each.


Advantages of a career in STEAM


Aside from being a meaningful career, STEAM jobs also pay well. Due to its high demand, employers are willing to pay more for STEAM talents to support their causes. 

‍While a lot of STEAM careers don’t require university degrees, studying in STEM-related subjects in university would be greatly beneficial to students’ career prospects. Particularly, students with a bachelor’s in STEM will find:

A 26% higher salary in entry level jobs than in non-STEM fields, and

2.5 entry-level job postings in STEM compared to non-STEM fields.

This goes without saying that STEAM is only going to grow bigger and bigger in the future. Careers in STEAM are future-proof — won’t be replaced by robots. Robots will need to be programmed by programmers, and society will never stop needing new technology to solve new problems.

‍With this in mind, how is the future generation being prepared in schools to take on this challenge?



STEAM Education in School


STEAM Education is different from traditional education in its hands-on approach. STEAM Education teaches children to apply their knowledge in real-life scenarios and use a scientific mindset in their daily lives. STEAM Education can begin when children are very young:

a girl listening to STEM teacher


Kindergarten

It is not too early to introduce STEAM to kindergarteners. STEAM at this level should make kids become curious about the world around them. Children can directly interact with STEAM through hands-on experiments. Most importantly, the goal is to show children that STEAM is something they can do with their own hands. That is why the STEAM they learn is level-adjusted. This means the concepts they learn shouldn’t be too hard but could still be explained in detail.


Primary School

STEAM Education at a primary school level should be introductory — not too difficult but enough to make students interested. The goal of this stage should be to encourage students’ to think scientifically and apply what they learn in their daily lives. Students should also be introduced to STEAM fields and jobs, and learn how STEAM shapes the world around them.


Secondary School

STEAM Education at a secondary school level should become more challenging and in-depth. Students at this stage deal with more abstract concepts while applying their knowledge on a greater level. The goal of this stage should be solidifying students’ learning and interest in STEAM. Schools should also give students solid insight, guidance and resources for students to further their studies in TEAM and pursue careers.



Shortcomings of STEAM class in school


Despite the push from governments around the world to improve STEAM Education, very few students are actually pursuing STEAM in their university studies. 

In the US, only 18% of students are interested in STEM, and only 16% are well-qualified to study STEM. In Hong Kong, very few students pursue STEM-related subjects from secondary school onwards and even less at university. 

Teachers often find difficulty in teaching STEAM in their classes since:

They do not have enough time to teach it

They are not experts in STEAM themselves

As a result, students have little exposure, training and education in school, therefore becoming uninterested in pursuing STEAM careers.

STEAM Class provided by Big Bang Academy to Schools as ECAs


Big Bang Academy is looking to change that. As a STEAM Education startup, Big Bang Academy strives to make STEAM Education accessible to everyone. Our level-adjusted curriculum is the only of its kind to be STEM.org accredited in Hong Kong.

Big Bang academy curriculum


With teachers trained in STEAM, we work with schools to provide quality STEAM lessons as ECAs. Aside from teaching, every one of our lessons include a hands-on experiment. Children can directly interact with STEAM and science concepts through experimentation.

We also offer curriculum — teachers can use our expert-designed curriculum to teach science to students even as young as kindergarteners.



Learning STEAM hands-on


Big Bang Academy’s model of teaching science through hands-on experiments makes it approachable and relatable to children. By showing them that science is something they can do with their own hands, we transform children into curious and motivated learners.

Check out our hybrid-learning platform and how we turn science into interactive and hands-on adventures! 

Related Articles:

  1. 13 Easy STEM Experiments Using Household Materials
  2. How to choose STEM toys for kids? Top 10 toys we recommend to parents
  3. 5 Tips To Choose The Best STEM Workshop / Class For Your Child

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Written By

Big Bang Academy

Big Bang Academy is an accredited science EdTech startup. Founded in early 2020, we started with a workshop of 15 students and a dream. Ever since, we have grown to serve 3,000+ students in both a lesson setting and our very own online education platform, Big Bang Lab.

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