This creative post is from Kellie Burtch a New Hampshire STEM teacher a TAR17 Retreater.  That year, she realized the potential of inserting the A into STEM and started her year ready to advocate for all the possibilities the arts could provide for her STEM class.

Parent Night, August 28, 2018

Mom: Hello! I’m thrilled that Hampton Academy offers STEM! My daughter wants to be an aeronautical engineer…I wish she didn’t have to waste so much time in Unified Arts classes and could focus on preparing for the future with Math and Science Classes.

Dad: I couldn’t agree more, they should have STEM all year, my daughter isn’t going to be an artist or a singer.

Dad 2: What’s STEM?

Ms. B: Hi! Welcome! I’m excited to share some new projects with students this year. Please feel free to check out all of the projects on display and try out the augmented-reality sandbox.

Preparing kids for the future has always been a challenge for parents and teachers, and now it’s more important than ever to emphasize creativity and innovation.  As the world becomes more and more technologically advanced, we wonder what future work will look like.  More schools are offering STEM which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It’s a truly interdisciplinary course. Students rely on all subjects, including the arts, to communicate their ideas effectively and create unique, effective designs.

Students of all learning styles can benefit from arts instruction. They are more engaged in the curricula and studies show that arts programs in schools result in 5x higher graduation rates, college attendance, and higher rates of employment. To cultivate well-rounded students prepared for the future, arts instruction is vital for our future scientists and engineers.

Dad 1: I see…what kids of projects do you do in here and how do the arts help?

Ms. B: In 6 th grade, we’re starting with creating solar ovens. For 7th grade, they’re designing and building plant pods. Most of the trimester focuses on digital design and 3D printing. For 8th, we’re beginning with a unit on building and testing Solar Circuits. Each year, students also learn about digital citizenship and program robots to complete various tasks.

The art and music classes help in many ways with open-ended project based lessons. There are many ways to approach a design challenge, so students need to use their creativity to collaborate and problem-solve. Many studies demonstrate neurological benefits including better communication between the left and right sides of the brain, as well as improved fine motor skills.

Mom: Wow, I hadn’t considered that before.

Dad 2: I’m still skeptical.

Ms. B: I was skeptical too, but I’m currently enrolled in two graduate classes. I have spent a lot of time over the summer reading studies about the arts in education. You should check it out…I’m guessing you’ll also be surprised about the benefits of the arts…and the benefits aren’t just for kids! If I can fit it into my schedule, I’m going to enroll in a class at the art studio near my home.

New 6th Grader: Ms. B, what are you looking forward to this year?

Ms. B: So many things! Meeting all of the 6th graders, and environmental camp. We are going to be receiving a new 3D printer. I can’t wait to dust off the robots!

Dad 1: How about that new standards-based reporting?

Ms. B: The entire staff is thrilled to make the transition and freshen up those rubrics! See you later this fall! Stop by to see the student work from the first trimester!