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How can STEAM education be more inclusive and accessible?

‘Technology alone is not enough - it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing’ Steve Jobs



Science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM), combines into a vast field that requires accessible and inclusive learning approaches.


Within this, STEAM education must pursue inclusivity to ensure diversity, innovation and accessibility. At Scientifically Speaking, we recognise that inclusivity isn't just about breaking small, specific barriers: it's about crafting learning environments that allow everyone to get involved in STEAM. 

In this sense, inclusivity is not a mere idea talking point that can be addressed in one go, but a fundamental aspect of STEAM education for nurturing the next generation of innovators. Hence, emphasising learning and teaching strategies when discasing inclusive is vital. This ensures that all individuals, regardless of ability levels, background or identity, can thrive in an exciting, multidimensional learning environment. Within all aspects of STEAM, all individuals should be able to see themselves in what they learn, especially children from an early age. Such an inclusive learning environment allows for a chance to learn what the current barriers are, promoting equal opportunities.

Inclusivity fundamental aspect of STEAM education for nurturing the next generation of innovators.

For example, an opportunity for inclusivity arises around people with disabilities. Within all STEAM fields, those with disabilities are underrepresented in academic environments and the entire job market. An example of students learning unique ways to adapt to disability within STEAM fields can be seen through a group of young people who designed a three dimensional (3D) printed periodic table. It was created to promote awareness of and accommodate to scientists with disabilities. The elements included items such as 3D printed gold chain used to represent the element of gold. Since it was a 3D project, it highlighted the non-inclusive challenges of the traditional way to present the elements of the periodic table, opening discussions surrounding the issues with learning and working in STEAM for those who cannot access 2D, written materials, such as blind individuals.


Inclusive STEAM projects such as this combines science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and the arts creatively, whilst teaching teamwork and problem-solving within education systems. This interdisciplinary approach can then be brought forward by individuals into their future decision making and development in life, school and work. Teaching inclusive skills such as these benefits learning styles through diverse methods of communication and presentation, ensuring that all learners can be involved no matter their talents or background. Furthermore, it encourages the learning of soft skills alongside the hard scientific knowledge, ensuring that all interests are inclusively covered.


Inclusive STEAM projects can combine STEM and the arts creatively, whilst teaching teamwork and problem-solving within education systems.

Inclusivity in all STEAM fields is vital. Dr Claire Crawford, Institute for Fiscal Studies, explains that ‘any lack of diversity in the scientific workforce represents both an absence of talent that the UK could be benefiting from and a lack of opportunity for people in the UK’. Including a diverse variety of perspectives and approaches to tackling and understanding STEAM fields will allow for greater scientific progress and stronger, better developed scientific policy through the inclusive involvement of the arts.


"Any lack of diversity in the scientific workforce represents both an absence of talent that the UK could be benefiting from and a lack of opportunity for people in the UK" - Dr Claire Crawford

In conclusion, inclusivity in STEAM education isn't just a goal. It is a journey toward a future where every individual, regardless of background or ability, can contribute to the ever-expanding landscape of science, art and technology. By ensuring we enforce inclusive teaching strategies through collaborative STEAM learning approaches, we can create a world where innovation knows no bounds. The connection between art and science brings ground-breaking new connections, which must be taught inclusively to all learners of all ages to ensure innovation and progress.


Article Key Take Home Messages

  1. Inclusivity is fundamental to STEAM education and is not just about addressing specific barriers; but is about creating learning environments for all.

  2. Inclusive learning approaches are essential teaching strategies that are crucial for nurturing the next generation of innovators.

  3. Inclusivity drives innovation and progress.


References


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