The process of teaching and learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) offers youth opportunities to make sense of the world they live in and prepare them for the future workforce. High-quality STEM opportunities help youth develop critical-thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving skills; enhance creativity; and engage in an investigative process.
Even though our legislators and government don't always appear to see the importance of out-of-school time (OST) programs, those of us who have worked in the field or have children who attend these programs, know that they make a huge difference in the lives of children and families. Why are they so effective in supporting youth success?
At an early age, I discovered a talent for drawing and painting. I recall my Kindergarten classmates telling me, "You should be an artist when you grow up." Over many years, that talent grew into a passion. However, as I got older I had a difficult time seeing potential careers within my passion for the arts and creativity. I ended up pursuing a career in graphic design.
Recently, STEAM has caught on as a buzzword in K-12 and afterschool learning. Short for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math, STEAM is more than a subject area. It is meant to be an interdisciplinary way to develop creative problem-solving skills in youth.
The arts have a profound impact on youth, educators, and educational environments (Fiske, 1999). In fact, the arts have the ability to: