Teacher workshop eyed melding arts with math, science curricula

Carol LaFayette

Carol LaFayette

Jorge Vanegas

Jorge Vanegas 

Rodney Hill

Rodney Hill

Texas educators in grades K-12 gathered to develop curricula incorporating the arts and creative thinking into science, technology engineering and math (STEM) classes during a March 9-10 workshop hosted by Texas A&M’s Institute for Applied Creativity.

The workshop, which took place in the Langford Architecture Center on the Texas A&M campus, was part of a nationwide, National Science Foundation-funded effort headed by Carol Lafayette, associate professor of visualization, to advance the STEM to STEAM movement — the inclusion of art and creative thinking in curricula of STEM disciplines.

Lafayette, with Jorge Vanegas and Rodney Hill, professors of architecture and champions of creativity who teach the popular Design Process creativity course at Texas A&M, led creativity sessions at the workshop.

Other workshop presenters included leaders of the STEM to STEAM movement in Texas, informally known as the PIE (Play, Invent and Explore) group:

  • Mary Hobbs of Texas Regional Collaboratives, an award-winning network of partnerships providing professional development to science and mathematics teachers from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade;
  • Linda Scott, executive director of Rice University’s School of Science and Technology,
  • Dara Williams-Rossi, assistant professor of education and human development at Southern Methodist University, and
  • Lucinda Presley, founding executive director of the Institute Where Creativity Empowers Education Success.

The PIE group develops learning experiences shown to improve results of standardized tests for K-12 classrooms that also advance the STEAM initiative, such as their partnership with nationally recognized museums like San Francisco’s Exploratorium, a museum of science and the arts.

The creativity workshop was one of the Institute of Applied Creativity’s efforts promoting the study and application of creative, innovative thinking across colleges and disciplines at Texas A&M and throughout a network of academic, corporate, community and nonprofit partners, said LaFayette, IAC director.

The PIE group is also partnering with the LaFayette-headed Network for Science, Engineering, Arts and Design, a pilot organization begun with a 3-year, $190,000 National Science Foundation grant.

LaFayette and her SEAD collaborators are working to facilitate a network of institutions that make connections between different disciplines and researching a combination of fiscal models to support learners of all age ranges.

posted February 1, 2013