There’s an excitement in the air as students go back to school all across South Dakota. Today, in addition to the “Three Rs,” teachers and arts advocates focus on STEAM—science, technology, engineering, ARTS and mathematics. STEAM provides a pathway to teaching the connections among all curricular subjects and how they relate to everyday life.
An excellent example of STEAM education, connectivity and the fun of learning was the ARTsome Astronomy class taught by Sturgis educator DeVee Dietz and educational consultant Dr. Marie Steckelberg at our Arts Education Institute this year. Participants explored terrestrial celestial objects like planets, comets, moons and asteroids and integrated science and technology concepts with the elements of design to create a work of art.
“Our course emphasizes science inspiring art and art empowering science,” Steckelberg said. “It’s learning from a different perspective—not just an art thing or a science thing, but simultaneously making that connection to take art and science out of their silos.”
For most school-aged children in South Dakota, back to school means another year of making that connection to creativity. It may be band practice—an opportunity to make music with classmates. For some, it’s a regularly scheduled art class, with the sense of achievement that creating with color, form and line can bring. There are numerous opportunities schools give our kids to tap their inner creativity, from writing their first poems to learning the fundamentals of dance to exploring theater in a class play. And it all ties together in the STEAM educational approach.
We believe that art—tapping into a student’s creativity—should be a fundamental part of every single subject in school. We learn about ancient Greece and revolutionary America as much from the pictures, architecture and stories of those eras as we do from the recitation of historical data. The form and structure of a triangle are as artistic as the formula for finding its area mathematically. And the grace and agility developed on a basketball court may find their ultimate expression on a stage years later.
As we celebrate the season, with its new pencils, new shoes and crisp fall days, let’s also celebrate the excitement of having our kids making art. From kindergarten handprints to senior high watercolors, from a student’s first trumpet lesson to the winter concert and from that very first correctly spelled word to a short story, our students are connecting to the arts with a full head of STEAM!
To learn more about Arts South Dakota educational and advocacy programs, join us online at www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.