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The Yin-Yang of STEM and Arts

By Sidra Miller

The concept of STEM has been a fundamental part of our lives for over 2 decades now. It was founded in an effort for US students to gain additional mathematical and logistical knowledge like students from other countries. However, early 2000s studies showed declining interest and engagement in STEM fields among student bodies. It was analyzed that 40% of people dropped a STEM degree within a few years, while 60% of those changed to a non-relating major. There wasn’t the passion and spark of interest that was necessary; there needed to be a change. As a result: STEAM (first introduced in 2006) emerged. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

Our brain is divided into 2 hemispheres: the right and left. The right hemisphere is said to be more ‘creative’ whereas the left is more logical. Despite controlling different things, they still work together which is how ideas and solutions are created by us. A frequent theme or idea that is constantly displayed across the globe is two seemingly contradictory concepts that really merge and work together as one. A symbol representing this is the Yin-Yang. The same applies to STEM and the arts/humanities. In the beginning, there was controversy as to whether adding the arts would be the solution. There was hesitancy because STEM and the humanities were seen as 2 opposite fields that could not coincide. Turns out, it did just the opposite. “Traditionally, the arts and sciences were viewed as two very different fields of study, but what STEAM education does is marry the two fields together to create a multi-disciplinary approach to technology development, robotics, industrial design, engineering, and more” (Sprout School). Artistic learning has shown significant benefits for students such as higher overall academic performance, increased creativity, higher decision-making skills, and better visual learning. All of these qualities are vital and play a role in all other life aspects and careers. Integrating artistic characteristics will not only appeal to others but also benefit STEM companies and businesses because it provides artistically focused individuals a chance to work with STEM.

There is a myriad of examples that shows the art in STEAM, such as building a website, video game, or software. They require a visual eye for the audience. The other part of it requires coding and logistics to make it function simultaneously. Even analyzing data requires a strong comprehension of writing, and writing is considered to be part of the humanities. STEAM is similar to math in the vein that there are different ways to approach a solution, and it can’t just be taught through textbooks. It can be argued that that is what makes STEAM (or STEM) so great, is the contribution of different creative ideas which all come together to create something new for the world.

It can be reasoned that there is one person who everyone has heard of in the technology enterprise: Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is a co-founder of Apple, a very successful international smart device company. He’s considered to be a revolutionary genius due to innovations of the iPhone and iPad that wouldn’t have been thought possible. Steve Jobs was one of the main advocates for STEAM, due to his previous work with Pixar. Unlike Bill Gates or Elon Musk, Jobs wasn't an engineer. In fact, he dropped out of college after his first semester. He worked on computer graphics and visuals with Pixar and became a board member of Disney. He was essentially the chief advocate for media and liberal arts within Apple. Because of his humanitarian background, he had a unique perspective for Apple, which helped lead to the software that Apple uses (iOS & OS X). “I hope he continues to speak the philosophy that what ultimately matters in technology is that a device is ultimately a vessel for human ideas and values and a tool for personal expression” (Carmody). Steve Jobs’ success story is nothing but evidence of how important it is to incorporate technology with arts, as it can create something that could never be dreamed of.

What goes around comes around. Everything works together in some way, whether it’s apparent or not. With art, for instance, there may need to be measurements, proportioning, or the use of a computer system. It also applies to STEM. With STEM there needs to be visuals, writing, ideas, and overall creativity. When fusing everything together, the result is stronger and better. Art and STEM have so many impacts on our society that it only makes sense for them to have an impact on each other.

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