With Tons of Experience in STEM Programs for Girls, Our Team Hammers Out the Girl Perspective on STEAM

With solid experience using STEM and STEAM to improve the well-being of others and with an eye toward their respective future lives (humanitarian engineering? computer science? creative technology? sustainability studies?), members of our all-girl team came together to hammer out the Girl’s-Eye View on STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art + design, and math.

STEAM, as distinct from STEM, gives students the opportunity to explore where disciplines intersect while using those intersections to serve their community. STEAM embraces the natural relationship between science and the arts. It also embraces what, for many girls, is the need to experience engineering and science as useful in improving life for others. When it comes the question of STEM or STEAM, for girls, STEAM is where they say they feel included, valued, and engaged.

STEM or STEAM? It’s Still a Question.

STEAM is also where girls and young women in our programs have found intersection with the premium they place on creativity and serving the community.

Examples of STEAM service learning generated by members of our team include using design thinking to prototype devices for health and wellness, including medication management, and creating technology to help community members become and practice carbon consciousness. In Pretty Brainy’s first STEAM service learning endeavor in 2015, girls and women came together to design and install lighting for a Habitat for Humanity home for a local, single-parent-led family.

A Girl’s-Eye View on STEAM is a list that reflects the standards and positive change our girl leaders are committed to helping shape in the places where they meet with others: classrooms and other learning spaces, workplaces (labs, studios, offices), on teams, and other sites and groups in the community. This includes wherever we go to teach, speak, and mentor those girls and boys with whom we have the opportunity to work. Learn more about STEAM as a national movement essential to innovation in the 21st century.

Members of our leadership team came together over coffee (pre-COVID-19) to consider the STEM or STEAM question and approved this final cut of the Girl’s-Eye View on STEAM

  • Make it relevant to the real world.
  • Use it to positively change lives.
  • Science and math: nothing without art + design.
  • Gadgets and tech: nothing without people.
  • Did someone say leader and senior developer?
  • We’re at the table and in the lab. We’re thinking about staying
  • Every question is a good question.
  • Prototyping, design thinking, and the scientific method. Yea!
  • Safety and respect on the team, in the classroom, and wherever you meet us.

What would you add to the list? We welcome your ideas and feedback. Sign in or create an account to join the conversation under “Leave a Comment” below.

Author Bio

Heidi Olinger is Pretty Brainy’s founder and president and the author of Leonardo’s Science Workshop (Quarto 2019), a STEAM book for middle grade students. When she writes STEAM, she is still sometimes told she has a typo in STEM.