STEEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Arts, and Math

By this point, most of us have heard of STEM: the acronym coined by the National Science Foundation in the early 2000s to refer to science, technology, engineering, and math. 

The original intent behind integrating a STEM education into schools was to provide students with the critical thinking skills needed to make them better creative problem solvers, as their multidisciplinary background would allow for problem solving from a variety of angles. 

Since the inception of STEM, however, both the approach to a multidisciplinary education – and the acronym have grown. Most schools and organizations now use the acronym STEAM rather than STEM, an approach inclusive of the arts in a well-rounded education. 

At Generator, we are taking it one step further. We exist at the intersection of art, science, technology, and entrepreneurship. Our cross-disciplinary approach incorporates much more than just STEM. Thus, at Generator, STEEAM was born: Science, Technology, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Arts, and Math. 

To understand the significance of this new acronym, it helps to understand more of the its history. 

STEM’s Roots

As previously mentioned, STEM was introduced by the National Science Foundation in 2001. But what happened after that? 

The acronym largely remained dormant until President Obama launched the “Education to Innovate” campaign in 2009, an effort to increase nationwide achievement for students in science and math. 

“Reaffirming and strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation is essential to meeting the challenges of this century,” said President Obama. “That’s why I am committed to making the improvement of STEM education over the next decade a national priority.” 

And he did, announcing initiatives including the annual White House science fair; commitments from high profile leaders, including Sally Ride, to support STEM education; and creating media partnerships set to inspire over ten million students.

Then, in 2013, STEM became STEAM. John Maeda, former president of Rhode Island School of Art and Design, wrote an op-ed for Seattle Times championing the importance of the arts in education. “There is great power in these fields [design and technology] taken separately, and even more when they are put together,” he wrote.


So, why the progression of the acronym from STEAM to STEEAM? 

As Marilyn Reznick, Chair of The Bay & Paul Foundation, said at a recent event at Generator, “it is Generator’s entrepreneurial spirit, rooted in practical reality, that enables it to not only create effective educational programs but contribute to community development as well.” 

This entrepreneurial spirit is a combination of resourcefulness, forward-thinking, persistence, and collaboration. Entrepreneurism, at its core, is the act of bringing ideas into realities – which, when you think about it, is a lot like the act of making.

At Generator, we believe that entrepreneurial skills are invaluable in today’s world, equally important as the mathematical, artistic, and other skills reflected in the STEAM acronym. The entrepreneurial skill set isn’t just relevant to those who plan on starting their own business – financial literacy, problem solving, critical thinking, and the ability to take risks are desirable qualities in any field. Entrepreneurs excel in initiative, collaboration, and perseverance. They are the type of worker that employers seek.

That’s why we see entrepreneurship as integral to our education philosophy, our culture and our programs. 

Everyone has good ideas, and good ideas can change the world. An entrepreneur will make those good ideas happen.