Demand for higher education instruction in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, may be surging because of the earning potential of those professions. However, local educational institutions are devoting more resources to arts programs—part of a growing STEAM curriculum—that encourage creative innovation.
Lone Star College-University Park is planning to open new instructional buildings to address the demand for science and art instruction, a result of the college system’s $485 million bond referendum that voters approved in 2014. The Center for Science and Innovation will open this fall, and an arts building will open on the campus in 2019.
At the secondary school level, Spring and Klein ISDs have adopted programs and tools that integrate arts and science instruction, such as KISD’s STEAM Express mobile learning center and SISD’s new Career Pathways program, which provide a range of options for students to get early experience in competitive fields.
“I think one of the reasons STEAM has gained much popularity over the last few years is because—for many educators—it has been almost an ‘Aha’ moment to realize that many of the projects labeled as STEM have always included components of artistic design,” said Mariam Manuel, executive director of the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp and an instructional assistant professor at the University of Houston.
Offering both art and STEM programs helps to prepare students for an increasingly competitive job market, according to instructors and administrators at LSC-University Park.
Developing the “soft” skills that are associated with the arts helps students excel in writing, creativity, presentation and building interpersonal relationships, Assistant Professor of Business Misty Sabol said.
“The ability to have empathy and the ability to develop relationships is the line in the sand between people who are sustainably successful and people who stagnate in…