What does STEAM stand for?
STEAM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. It is fast becoming a widely discussed and encouraged approach within education at all levels around the world.
STEAM for our primary children has always been known as enquiry learning. Enquiry learning encourages active (often hands-on) challenging experiences that support building understanding, vocabulary, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and reflection. For us this has always meant that learning becomes much more meaningful; knowledge and skills are embedded allowing children to apply them to new situations promoting discovery and growth. We have always facilitated enquiry experiences by creating opportunities for children to practically learn about the world and by asking high-quality, open-ended questions. Enquiry practices provide young children with opportunities to approach their work and problems in new and authentic ways.
High quality primary education naturally facilitates and develops this STEAM mindset with plenty of practical, collaborative activities which enhance the learning process in a meaningful context for the children. Lessons that focus regularly on activities such as, plotting the movement of the sun, working out how to make a bridge strong enough to walk across and making and testing the children’s own made sycamore seeds, all help to develop the STEAM interdisciplinary approach.
From EYFS to Year 6
STEAM is integrated into learning throughout all the year groups in Primary. This ranges from child led interest themes in the Early Years through to topic and project investigations in Year 6.
In Reception class this may involve children being engaged in constructing steady structures in the outdoors, coding for programmable toys for travelling around treasure islands, creating symmetrical spaceships in our journeys to the planets or recreating the Northern Lights.
Year 4a have recently done an afternoon of STEAM activities which involved the whole class using critical thinking, creativity, communication and self-direction. The class started on individual projects and then collaborated and joined their work together for a larger project that required team work. The learning occurred during the creating process. The task was to create something of their choice- robot/animal out of the given materials. They then decided (after asking) to make a safari park scene all together.
In year 5, after spending time looking at Impressionist art, the children then experimented with different types of pastels and surfaces to see which would give the blurred sense of a picture that they discussed as an important feature of Impressionism.
In year 6 children were challenged to build the longest marble run using recycled materials. They also were asked to build a 30cm platform to hold a tennis ball using just straws and tape. The tape and straws had a specific cost so the challenge was to build their structure in the cheapest way possible… not as easy as it seems!