Theory – Diving

Have you been hearing about STEAM learning models and want to know how it fits within maker education? Then this is your spot!

Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) Education

The arts and STEM education provide alternative paths to reinforce the growth of a shared set of 21st century skills, specifically problem-solving, collaboration, individual and
collective discourse, and critical thinking¹, which students foster in the STEAM learning model. Furthermore, arts education integrated in STEM learning involves students being exposed to divergent, creative thinkers and, furthermore, affords students with the experiences needed to design, observe and critique their own methods and products which can in turn foster creativity.² By engaging in STEAM pedagogy, through MakerEd designs, students use the arts as a means to start developing divergent thinking needed to analyze STEM challenges and/or phenomenon from multiple viewpoints, moving away from the belief that there is only one way to solve a problem, and integrating various perspectives in the formation of a conclusion or product.³ By focusing on the aesthetics of STEAM designs and maker projects, learning tasks have the potential to engage students in learning more deeply by providing the means with which to identify and assess ideas and connect them to solutions as well as encouraging students to engage in meta-cognitive processes.4

Design Thinking, as outlined in our Going for a Swim theory section, lays the groundwork for developing maker design projects; however, a key element could be added, that of Studio Thinking.5 The table below lists some key elements of artistic principles as outlined by Gettings (2016) to incorporate into your maker projects:

Design Process Actions
Empathize Engage in authentic problems that integrate learning outcomes from each of the STEAM disciplines
Students should engage in discovering problems of relevance to them in the world.
Students should aim to produce works that deliver an idea, an emotion, or a personal meaning.
Define Students should envision multiple solutions, products, challenges, or questions related to the problem based on prior knowledge and experience as well as from multiple perspectives/viewpoints.
Ideate Students should explore previous solutions to the problem, build new knowledge through questioning, exploring patterns, researching what is known and unknown, and collaborative discourse.
Students should use creative thinking skills to explore new avenues and solutions from what has been learned.
Students should use appropriate discipline knowledge, technology, and artistic media in the process of developing solutions.
Students should select the most appropriate medium to justify and communicate their solutions or products.
Prototype Students should carry out a study / propose a possible solution / create a product, with the aesthetic experience in mind.
Test Students should make, observe, and reflect throughout the process, seeking out and valuing different opinions and suggestions in order to make modifications.
Students should critique their work as well as the work of their peers.
Iterate Students should look to iterate their work based on reflection.

Check out our Diving Deep examples in order to get some ideas on how to implement this type of educational design in your practice!


  1.    Sousa, D., and Pilecki, T., (2013). From stem to steam: Using brain-compatible strategies to integrate the arts. London: Sage Publications.
  2.     Madden, M.E., Baxter, M., Beauchamp, H., Bouchard, K., Habermas, D., Huff, M., Ladd, B., Pearon, J. & Plague, G. (2013). Rethinking stem education: An interdisciplinary steam curriculum. Procedia Computer Science, (20), 541-546. doi:10.1016/j.procs.2013.09.316
  3.    Quigley, C.F. & Herro, D. (2016). “Finding the joy in the unknown”: Implementation of STEAM teaching practices in middle school science and math classrooms. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 25(3), 410-426. doi:10.1007/s10956-016-9602-z
  4.    Sawyer, R.K. (2014). Introduction: The new science of learning. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (2nd
    ed.) (pp. 1-18). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  5.    Gettings, M. (2016). Putting it all together: Steam, pbl, scientific method, and the studio habits of mind. Art Education, 69(4), 10-11. doi:10.1080/00043125.2016.1176472

Picture References