Stem, Steam and Steam-E; Let’s Get Physical





Most of you are by now fully familiar with STEM, the acronym that refers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  It is both an interdisciplinary teaching approach as well as a cheerleading squad for the hard sciences.   There are numerous conferences and even a Hall of Fame.  Those I spoke to who attended the massive STEM event, the USA Science & Engineering Festival (325,000 visitors in 4 days), were highly excited by the educational and economic opportunities for those in the play industries.

The STEAM movement has arisen as a reaction to the success of STEM and the recognition that the arts are underserved in our schools.  STEAM (the A stands for Arts) seeks to secure funding and focus on the arts as part of creating fully integrated, well educated adults of the future.

So, with the goal of creating, truly healthy and fully educated children, I would like to propose STEAM-E (the E stands for Exercise).  If you think the arts are underfunded, simple recreation has almost disappeared from children’s lives. 

Don’t confuse playtime at school with organized sport.  Football and other major sports are typically well funded in schools.  Simple play or exercise or whatever you want to call it is underfunded not in terms of dollars (running around outside does not call for fancy equipment; just an open field) but in terms of time.  Schools are unwilling to invest the time in children exercising, doing somersaults, playing tag, tossing a ball and doing whatever fun and silly thing they want to do.  Recess, if available, is down to 15 minutes a day.

Children need the sciences; children need the arts and children need to move, to play and to simply run around.  STEAM-E seeks to integrate play and movement as essential components for creating well educated, happy children who will turn into healthy adults.

Let’s get STEAM-E.

5 thoughts

  1. This is the type of forward thinking we need to include in kids education and toys. If educators forget the STEM and R,A, and E. they are missing the boat and ill preparing our children for the future, neglecting their health, and not exercising their mind to think in creative, alternate ways. Let’s not forget to have kids think about the grey areas. STEAM-ER is not BLACK and WHITE

  2. Hi Tom, Thanks for the reference to my Trend Presentation at the Digital Kids Conference in NYC, held concurrently with New York ToyFair. Yes, STREAM includes Robotics now, as the updated acronym. And as Richard so accurately points out in his blogpost, Exercise and free-form play experiences are also key elements to a kids life. Free-form imaginative play is a vital component to developing kids that are imaginative, creative thinkers, problem-solvers, critical thinkers, risk-takers, rule-breakers and team-players. We need kids to be able to play socially together everyday, to foster these skills, as they have fun, and re-energize themselves with exercise breaks throughout the school day. Many adults could also use a good dose of imaginative, free-form exercise and playtime built into their days, for exactly the same reason. Plus, play and fun means more laughter, and that is the best stress-reducer in the world. Live with Passion, Reyne Rice

  3. Thanks Richard. During one of the panel discussions at the Digital Kids Conference this past February in New York City, one of the panelists talked about STREAM, with the “A” representing “Arts” and the “R” representing “Robotics”. No matter what, it’s all important. And, yes, free-form, outdoor play/exercise is absolutely necessary for the development of well-rounded, healthy kids. So whether it’s STEAM-E or STREAM-E, I’m on board.

  4. GREAT IDEA. Of course, STEM is focused on left-brain activity. Arts activate the right-brain activity where sub-verbal, emotional, non-linear thinking happens.
    Adding the Exercise helps integrate everything together for good brain and body-mind balance, but also to help train their still developing brains to enjoy being active.
    Creating the neural networks that operate on fun is one of the best ways to prevent childhood obesity, diabetes, and even teenage pregnancy. (But that’s a slightly different story. The point there is to say that focusing on human development is THE BEST teenage pregnancy prevention program EVER, which we seem to be needing more and more these days.)
    Bottom line: let kids be kids!

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