I had the unique opportunity to join Design Museum Boston as they kicked-off their 2017 Design Museum Mornings series with STEAM: Rocket Fuel for the Innovation Economy. The session was hosted at Google’s Boston office in Cambridge, MA and featured Google’s own Steve Vinter discussing the value of educating and integrating the Arts into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
With a brief introduction and re-fresher of the STEM to STE(A)M concept championed by RISD’s John Maeda, the lecture quickly dove into specific examples both at Google and in Mr. Vinter’s personal experiences.
The energy and discussion were both eye-opening and inspiring. In a world of information and data, the emphasis on design and visualization is a key component to interpreting the data around us in a more meaningful way. The examples he used quickly resonated with the audience and exemplified that whether we realize it or not, the (A)rt component is integrated into our lives everyday through animation, photography, graphic data, product development, etc. The “A” is everywhere.
The lecture generated some interesting discussions on whether or not the (A) in STE(A)M was enough and whether it appropriately represented design. Some members of the audience argued that the concept shouldn’t end at STE(A)M but should be represented as STE(AD)M to encompass the ideas of craft, materiality and the act and intent of Design. The act and intent of Design is a separate entity from the general Arts and warrants its own importance in the education of our next generation of problem solvers.
As the session came to an end, Mr. Vinter left the audience with a heartwarming story of how his own son inadvertently incorporated STE(A)M into his life by starting a bracelet business at a young age. The message of the story emphasized the value in teaching skills rather than scores and that learning for the sake of learning is not the answer for the future of STEM but in STE(A)M we learn for the sake of “doing”.
You can watch the full presentation here!