As the owner of a STEAM enrichment company, I routinely get questions, from parents, about what we do and why we do it. It’s understandable. A lot of parents have “heard” that STE(A)M is important but they’re somewhat unsure of WHY it’s important and more importantly- what it can do for their child.

In our test-first culture, parents are accustomed to pushing their children to get the “right” answers. This is usually all that matters and it’s easy to quantify how well your child does with getting the right answers. What’s a lot harder to quantify but much more relevant is how well your child solves problems, thinks critically, and works with others. These essential skills (or lack thereof), will determine if your child becomes a cog in the machine, or the hand that cranks it. This video from the documentary “Most Likely to Succeed” shows, wonderfully, why a change (or at least a supplement) to the traditional educational system is needed. The thoughts from the video run parallel to ours and is the reasoning behind our push to get more kids into a STEAM state of mind.

STEAM is not simply the content contained within the subjects but more of an architecture for thinking. How do you construct/develop a child’s brain to be able to innovate creatively, process information, and understand complex systems? You expose them to STEAM, and early! For pre-adolescent children, the most effective way to do so is through play! We firmly believe, as Tony Wagner does, that play leads to passion, leads to purpose.

I once rubbed a client the wrong way when I told her that I wanted every child to study engineering. As someone who majored in accounting in college, she took offense to the “every child an engineer” pitch that I was making (I haven’t spoken with her since :) The point I was making to her, though, and it’s borne out by the numbers, is that the most common college major among Fortune 500 CEOs and billionaires is engineering. Which isn’t by happenstance. Studying engineering principles and practicing STEAM fundamentals such as hands-on play, making (and un-making), and problem solving ALL contribute to the development of a child’s architecture for thinking.

Stay tuned.

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