As a sector, we’ve happily moved beyond the belief that Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts or Maths (STEAM) should sit isolated in a vacuum. It’s self-apparent that the most impressive, important and engaging developments in society are taking place at the convergence of these fields, with new initiatives in business, environmental conservation, healthcare and much else drawing on the knowledge (and talent) of people collaborating across these different areas.
All the STEAM subjects can creatively complement one another, each offering different tools and perspectives to address an enormous range of challenges and opportunities. Science and Technology might combine to create new diagnostic tools for health issues, while Arts and Maths might enable people to better understand important numeral information through beautiful illustrations. In the real world, these opportunities for creative cross-disciplinary collaboration are truly unlimited (just think of the internet or the aeroplane) but are only possible when we can take step back and use creative thinking to conceive of how they might be successfully combined.
To thrive professionally in a future workforce, students must develop an appreciation of how all the STEAM subjects can interact to produce new innovations – and vitally, must also recognise the fundamental need for creativity in order to make this happen.
That’s why as a STEAM lead, I’m interested in UNBOXED. Creativity sits at the heart of the UNBOXED Learning Programme, which is designed to support schools in developing these skills within young people in their classroom.
This free programme, for young people aged 4 – 19, is an example of placing creativity centre stage in a STEAM-based learning environment. From a bio-diverse forest in a city centre to an epic scale model of the solar system, schools can experience first-hand these creative successes when engineering and art, scientific research and technological innovation come together.
What drew me to the UNBOXED Learning Programme was how its various projects, and the resources available, showcase what can happen when creativity and STEAM are combined. It is evident both inside and outside the classroom, from digital learning to in-person experiences. As an educator, you’re teaching the same curriculum. The variety of this programme gives teachers the chance to add excitement, real-world learning and innovation into our lessons to inspire students.
The barriers to teaching STEAM are that teachers don’t have the time or confidence to build and deliver a lesson. As a Physics teacher, my specialism is in the ‘S’ part of STEAM but the range of activities from UNBOXED gives teachers more confidence in broader STEAM teaching whilst not needing to be a specialist in any particular area. The quality of the resources from high profile artists and scientists is also to a very high standard which means that staff feel confident in presenting the material.
UNBOXED’s Dandelion project has been empowering students in Scotland to learn about growing, share in community harvests and work together for a more sustainable future. We are currently running the project with over 200 students in our school. To date, the feedback has been that it was their favourite part of the year for many students.
One of the questions I often get asked is how other teachers can build STEAM into lessons. My response? Let young people explore their creativity. With STEAM learning, you’re facilitating this. Using the ready-made activities from the UNBOXED Learning Programme can be used to support those conversations.
Created for young people aged 4 - 19, the UNBOXED Learning Programme is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that brings together digital and in-person learning experiences across STEAM from March to October 2022. Learn more here: https://unboxed2022.uk/