STEAMing Ahead


Photo by Matt McCabe

And now a word from: Sarah, Anson, Justin, and Erin

STEM is a curriculum based around knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Instead of separating the subjects, the STEM program encompasses them together. Lately, there has been a lot of administrative push towards the STEM program due to previous lack thereof. In 2009, the Obama administration introduced the “Educate to Innovate” campaign, helping teachers and students both excel in this field. Since then, the emphasis on the importance of STEM programs in schools has only grown. Benefits of this program include being able to stay innovative in this world of ever changing technology, being creative because there are so many doors opened up for you and making a higher salary than people with non-STEM program degrees.

 Across the Island and even through extracurricular activities, STEM opportunities are available if only one searches for them. A particularly popular endeavor on Long Island is science research, as a result of the renowned laboratories and programs located at the nearby Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. As participants in the Garcia Research Program (one of many available), we can personally attest to the significant influence and even necessity for modern day students to be able to conduct novel science. Not only was it able to guide us towards a field of interest, it has sharpened our skills in critical thinking across all subjects. Many individuals often have the conception that working in a laboratory is an exclusive activity reserved purely for geniuses or old people who have spent a decade to obtain a doctorate degree. The fact is however that many scientists are willing to take in students to mentor during with a mere email and a demonstration of potential to succeed in research.

STEAM is a way to take the already beneficial program STEM, and make it even more successful by incorporating the arts into it. STEAM is not so much of a program to teach art but rather to apply it in real situations. Encouraging students to take a more creative approach will generate more innovative thinking towards whatever they’re working on, thus why the arts are just as important to this program as the other preexisting aspects.

Artistic practices such as design principles, elements, and standards can greatly strengthen one’s work, making it more appealing and overall give it the aspects they’ve been missing. In the end, integrating arts into STEM will allow students to combine their creative process, along with their critical areas of science, technology, engineering and math to vastly expand their horizons and remove their limitations at their disposal.

At Pat-Med, we fully encourage this integration of hardcore STEM with the humanities. The various extracurriculars and courses the high school offers provides an environment where the diverse interests of students may be explored. Besides the regular Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics classes, our school offers various STEM electives including environmental science, mammalogy, astronomy, marine science, forensic science, meteorology, and phenomenal physics. As for mathematics, Statistics, Robotics, and the entire computer science track of Web Design/Java through computer science principles are all available classes for students to take. Technology electives constitute everything from robotics to architectural drawing. Many students have shown strong interest to these STEM-oriented classes, and have benefitted immensely in other classes and beyond because of these skills.

 When you take a look at the immense number of arts electives the high school offers, it is clear that we have available a plethora of avenues to explore. Some arts electives include Media Arts, Digital Video, Studio Art, Drawing and Painting, Ceramics, and Photography. We pride ourselves in the music department, having powerful Wind, Choral, and String Ensembles. In the broader humanities perspective, our school also offers unique English courses such as Creative Writing, Theater, Communications and Broadcasting, Philosophy, Heroes & Villains and Suspense & Supernatural. At our school, students are given the option to enroll in courses to their personal interests in addendum to required classes.

 While STEM courses obviously hold immense importance to any career one may choose to pursue, Pat-Med has shown the benefits a STEAM approach may provide. Arts and humanities are vital to critical thinking, writing and analysis skills, communication, and an exploration of creativity. Combining this with the engineering mind of STEM, any student is bound to achieve success with these skills in hand.