What is STEAM Education?
“An approach to teaching and lifelong learning that emphasizes the natural interconnectedness of the five separate STEAM disciplines–Science, Technology, Engineering, Artistic Innovation, and Mathematics. The connections are made explicit through collaboration between educators resulting in real and appropriate context built into instruction, curriculum, and assessment. The common element of problem solving is emphasized across all STEAM disciplines allowing students to discover, explore, and apply critical thinking skills as they learn.”
Why we are here
Ours was one of six regional hubs awarded a total of $2.8 million in state funds in February 2014. The Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub was awarded $325,000 to build a solid infrastructure to provide STEAM education in Douglas County. The hubs represent 21 counties and are working, among other goals, to double the number of students who earn post-secondary degree requiring proficiency in STEM fields. Our hub is targeted to impact Douglas County youth and provide professional development support for adults serving youth.
Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub goals include
- Uniting schools, nonprofit groups, businesses and civic leaders to drive education for these types of opportunities
- Engaging students early in STEAM-related classroom activities and out-of-school workshops
- Assisting in a statewide goal to double the percentage of students in fourth and eighth grades who are proficient or advanced in mathematics and science, as determined by a national assessment.
- Increasing the number of students who earn a post-secondary degree requiring proficiency in STEM fields.
Why STEM? Why Now?
Science, Education, Engineering and Mathematics are four crucial 21st century skills with a high demand in the workforce. In Douglas County the “A” in STEAM represents the added discipline of art. It recognizes the link between STEM subjects and the artistic component of creative thinking and innovation.
Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub is an initiative of Douglas County Partners for Student Success (DCPSS), which was launched in 2013 with funding from The Oregon Community Foundation. Community leaders came together to create a cradle-to-career path for county students that not only better kids’ chances for satisfying, well-paying work, but also benefits the community- especially when those jobs allow students to stay in Douglas County.
A large part of DCPSS’s focus is to guide and prepare children for post-secondary education. The Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub ties in to this goal by reinforcing students’ aptitudes for science and technology courses. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, jobs linked to those two disciplines, along with engineering and mathematics, are growing three times faster than any other kind of jobs.
The STEAM Hub is one of the tools we’re using to plug kids into information and resources that send them along successful career paths. At the same time, we’re boost our county and community vitality by encouraging students early to look at STEAM opportunities right here at home.