STEAM, the acronym referring to the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, represents a paradigm shift from traditional education methods that are steeped in standardized test scores. As a new ideal, STEAM focuses on the basic process of learning as much as it does on the test results.
The Children’s Museum of the Upstate (TCMU) extends STEAM learning beyond our Upstate school classrooms, challenging children to try multiple ideas, foster vital learning and build life skills while playing and having fun. Through innovative STEAM based exhibits, programs, and special events, children who visit TCMU can develop critical thinking and communication skills, creativity and real-world problem solving outside of their classrooms – all of which are vital to the creation of lifelong learners.
Museum visitors can expect a lot more in 2016, as we introduce two new exhibits that will focus exclusively on STEM learning initiatives. A new outdoor exhibit gifted from the Michelin Corporate Foundation will be structured around Michelin’s mission of providing sustainable mobility to communities across the globe while also tying into Greenville’s own themes of growth and progress. Scheduled to open in April 2016, the exhibit will give children a hands-on experience with the STEM fields through the exploration of mobility, and how it impacts our social, economic and environmental health. Another new exhibit opening in late Fall 2016, gifted by Fluor as part of its 2016 Golf for Greenville Charity Golf Tournament proceeds, will be a next-generation STEM exhibit built to enhance the museum’s STEM curriculum content. Ultimately, the new Fluor exhibit will provide new opportunities for children to learn basic science and engineering principles through hands-on activities.
As research in neuroscience shows, arts activities enhance creativity, problem solving, memory systems, and analytical skills — all critical for achieving STEM success. STEAM programs add art to STEM curriculum by drawing on design principles and encouraging creative solutions. TCMU not only focuses on STEM, but brings in the “A” for art, allowing children the freedom to create and express themselves through art projects in our open art studios; explore the properties of modeling clay; and learn how to weave, sew, felt and design projects using fibers and yarn. Our STEAM-specific programs, including RANDOM ACTS OF SCIENCE and REAL TOOL TIME give children the ability to create art projects while incorporating the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
In closing, TCMU is committed to providing year-round exhibits and programs that help children get excited about STEAM fields to tackle problems, develop new solutions, create art and expand their knowledge in order to make the world a better place.
By Diana Berti
The Children’s Museum of the Upstate – Development Director