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Art and technology.

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Welcome to our first fully electronic version of Children's Technology and Engineering!

We begin this new school year with an interesting and informative look at the integration of the arts into STEM, creating a new field called "STEAM." The addition of the arts to STEM education creates interesting opportunities for students to become creative and innovative in their learning. Certainly, one of the first places that students imagine and create unique objects and devices is in the elementary arts classrooms. Advocates of STEAM remind members of the STEM community that art and design are the foundations of innovation--and that true innovation does not come from technology alone, but from the merger of technology, art, and design. John Maeda, President of the world-renowned Rhode Island School of Design, remarked: "Art helps you see things in a less constrained space. Our economy is built upon convergent thinkers, people that execute things, get them done. But artists and designers are divergent thinkers: they expand the horizon of possibilities. Superior innovation comes from bringing divergents (the artists and designers) and convergents (science and engineering) together" (Lamont, 2010).

The arts offer the first vestiges of flexibility in problem-solving activities--this is especially important in the elementary grades. The National Arts Public Awareness Campaign states that students who have participated in arts projects are likely to have better scores in academic classes than those who don't participate in art programs. They also note that those students are four times more likely to participate in math and science activities.

The merging of STEM and the arts is not a novel approach, however. When considering what to write for this welcome, I quickly Googled Maestro Leonardo da Vinci. if ever there was an early example of STEAM in action, it is within the drawings and inventions produced by this genius. His observations were brought to life as he created exquisite renderings of what he saw and how he reckoned the way things worked. His codex of wonderful drawings are a marvel for all to look at. Imagine the things that were floating around in that fantastic mind that never made it to the pages of his portfolios! The merging of da Vinci's artistic abilities and his experiences with technology is a perfect example of the potential that STEAM holds for all children.

While many of da Vinci's drawings contain the nascent details for various devices, his careful observation and ability to transfer ideas to paper are traits we ought to encourage in all students. Advocates of STEM, and other education reformers, should latch on to the provocative idea of encouraging more ideation and solution development through the use of artistic media such as modeling with clay, drawing, sculpting with a wide array of materials, photography, and other graphic means. These initial forays into the use of the imagination to explore solutions to problems can be extended through the creative integration of the arts across all subjects, not just STEM.

We are expecting another exciting year, with interesting themes for Children's Technology and Engineering. It is our hope that you will find CTE as valuable as you have in the past as we endeavor to be a fully electronic journal. Please let us know your thoughts.

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Lamont, T. (2010). John Maeda: Innovation is born when art meets science. The Observer, November 14, 2010. Retrieved from www. guardian.co.uk] technology/2010/nov/14/ my-bright-idea-johnmaeda

Charlie McLaughlin, DTE is Coordinator for the Technology Education Program at Rhode Island College and the Field Editor for CTE. He can be reached at cmdaughlin@ric.edu.
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Author:McLaughlin, Charlie
Publication:Children's Technology and Engineering
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2011
Words:598
Previous Article:Ideas for integrating technology education into everyday learning.
Next Article:Children's engineering and the arts.
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