Bipartisan Congressional STEAM Caucus Kicks Off
Group Aims to Integrate Arts and Design with STEM Education Efforts
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) have announced the formation of the Congressional STEAM (STEM+Arts and Design) Caucus. The group will host briefings and advocate for policy changes that will encourage educators to integrate arts, broadly defined, with traditional Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum. The goal is to encourage the creativity needed to drive our innovation economy forward. A kickoff briefing sponsored by the Rhode Island School of Design was held today on Capitol Hill.
“There were digital music devices before the iPod, but it took creative design and interface development from Apple to transform the way the world listens to music,” Bonamici said. “We frequently discuss the importance of STEM education, but we can’t ignore the importance of engaging and educating both halves of the brain. Creative, critical thinking leads to innovation. The integration of the arts into STEM curriculum will excite creativity in the minds of our future leaders and innovators.”
“When we talk about training the next generation of workers – creative minds and creative thinking are some of the most important qualities that employers look for when making hiring decisions,” said Schock. “Studies have shown that arts education increases test scores and lowers dropout rates – arts education helps to close the achievement gap, improves academic skills essential for reading and language development, and advances students’ motivation to learn.”
“I believe art and design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century like science and technology did in the last century,” said RISD President John Maeda. “Adding art and design to STEM to create STEAM will keep America competitive. As a lifelong STEM student – I spent many years at MIT before coming to RISD – I’ve seen firsthand the progress that STEM education can produce. But I’ve also witnessed STEM’s limits. Innovation depends on the problem solving, risk-taking and creativity that is natural to the way artists and designers think. Art and science – once inextricably linked – are better together than apart. We are so pleased that Congresswoman Bonamici and Congressman Schock are leading the formation of this caucus in recognizing the critical importance of art and design to the greater economy.”
According to a study led by Robert Root Bernstein of Michigan State University, Nobel laureates in the sciences are much more likely to engage in arts and crafts than other scientists and the general public. These creative scientists have an “ability… to explore a wide range of apparently unrelated activities and to connect the knowledge and skills gained thereby into integrated networks that can be brought effectively to bear in raising and solving important scientific problems.” STEAM education will foster creativity, innovation, and thinking outside the box – all of which will help our students on the path to global competitiveness.
Caucus members will work to increase awareness of the importance of STEAM education and explore new strategies to advocate for STEAM programs. Current members of the caucus include Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI), Jared Polis (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH).