Is STEAM the New STEM?


At the root of Des Moines Area Community College’s (DMACC) ciWeek, is science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education (STEM). Having a week centered around individuals who had made an impact in their designated field is meant to empower students and make a difference in their lives. Presenters like Kari Byron, who started as an art major and ended up hosting and co-hosting shows such as the Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters,” were a part of this year’s events.

Weeks/events such as this are important starting points for students to recognize what other people in their field have done, and where they can take their next step. Even though she was an art major in college, Byron hosted the 2016 White House Science Fair as a proponent for STEM education. In an interview with The Campus Chronicle at DMACC, Byron stated that Art and science basically have the same momentum: you start with a question, and you investigate the possibilities.A strong proponent of STEM and the understanding of the link between art and science, Byron believesthat if you teach art in conjunction with science and mathematics, people will be able to connect the dots in different ways.”

Kari Byron and Dr. Paustian at ciWeek

Kari Byron and Dr. Paustian at ciWeek

For Philip Graham, a member of the DMACC class of 2018, the biggest thing he walked away from ciWeek with was “understanding the fact that creativity is crucial in order to be successful.” Creativity and curiosity are a large part of what make artists successful, these connect to the areas covered by STEM. Once Bryon “started to approach science like art” that she was able to get her “hands dirty and discover a new passion.” After discovering how the five subjects relate, Byron became an advocate for inclusion of art in STEM and it becomes STEAM education.

According to the college website, ciWeek is designed to “provide students and central Iowans an opportunity to engage with people (some famous, all inspired) who have dreamed, created and accomplished.” The week brings together innovators from the fields of science, technology, and the arts to inspire students and faculty, as well as the community. All three fields have much to offer students and when events such as ciWeek at DMACC take place, they are able to see a variety of different events in a way that help to “broaden the spectrum as to what is possible to achieve,” according to presenter Howard Berger. This week of events allowed students like Graham to “indulge [himself] in the presence of innovated artists and step into their perspective and understanding their logic.” In a world where “there will always be the rational, scientific answers,” Graham notes that “there has to be creativity in order to make it innovated.”

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