Ear Food: Ted Talks About Challenge-Based, STEAM Learning

What’s the #1 skill that will open up opportunities in many top fields of the future — some of which haven’t been invented yet?

The answer is not just proficiency in subject areas. It’s the ability to solve problems, according to surveys of engineers and business leaders.

Through our own experiences working with our kids, the parents involved with Arlington STEAM have become convinced of:

  • the value of challenge-based learning opportunities
  • the value of multidisciplinary STEAM education
  • and the importance of teaching skills such as teamwork, communication, and project management.

Here’s a collection of some of our favorite TED Talks about these ideas.






Ted Talks on Creativity

Ted Talks to about How to Make STEAM Learning Incredibly Fun



Perspectives: STEAM Education

Building Bots and Confidence

From: The New York Times, February 22, 2019

BALTIMORE — On a blustery winter afternoon in a school gym that had seen better days, Shemar Watkins, 11, and three friends huddled over a pile of Legos, learning how to fail. The lesson wasn’t going well. … Early versions of their bot would probably fail on the battlefield, sending them back to the drawing board. Indeed, the Gravediggers’ first creation — heavily fortified but barely tested — was in pieces after a couple of bouts.

“They did you a favor!” Aron Lee, the class instructor, boomed from half court, shouting amid the din of 10- and 11-year-olds scrambling for Lego bricks, fixing defeated bots and trash-talking one another. “They showed you where your weak spots are!”

Then, a reminder. “Failure is your fuel,” he told the Gravediggers and anyone else within earshot. “But remember — you have to fail fast.”

That in a nutshell was the objective of the weekly lab that Mr. Lee and his company, Deilab (pronounced DAY-lab), conducts at Eutaw-Marshburn, which is near a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood northeast of downtown. While the activities are hands-on lessons in science, technology, engineering, art and math, or STEAM, Mr. Lee says the children are also learning about resilience: the willingness to overcome adversity and try, try again…


STEAM: Using the Arts to Train Well-Rounded and Creative Scientists

From: The Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, October 2018

While the demand for a strong STEM workforce is growing and is recognized by academic, non-profit, and government institutions alike, there are challenges that threaten our ability to recruit, train, and retain such a workforce in ways that are effective and sustainable and foster innovation.

Educator-scientists are meeting some of these challenges by infusing creativity — by means of the arts — into the education and training of future scientists. … When we think of integrating arts and science, the most obvious art form that comes to mind is the visual arts. After all, most scientists have had to generate diagrams to communicate their science effectively. At the same time, performance arts such as dance and theater also lend themselves to integration into science education and training.

In this Perspectives article, we review the use of visual and performance arts in science education and their benefits in both K–12 and post-secondary education. We also discuss STEAM programs in science outreach and the development of professional scientists. …



Perspectives: Girls & STEM – Closing the Gender Gap

Girls Get Tech. They Just Need Others to Believe It.

New research explores how access to technology helps put girls on par with boys.
From: The New York Times, February 12, 2019

Research by the Girl Scout Research Institute, out this week, says that — according to a survey of 2,900 girls and boys ages 5 to 17 (along with their parents) — giving girls the same access to smartphones, tablets, laptops and gaming devices helps put girls on par with boys when it comes to tech, or to be able to exceed them in some respects.


Making Gains for Women in STEM Fields Will Take More Effort

From: The New York Times, November 20, 2018

No one disputes these days that STEM remains mostly a man’s world. Much has been written about the male geek culture that dominates Silicon Valley and other technology hubs. But numerous speakers at the conference agreed that needs to change soon if women are to adjust to fast-changing job markets that increasingly require technological skills, or scientific proficiency.

“This is one of the most important issues of our time, and it is urgent,” said Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, founder of W4, an organization that promotes girls and women in technology. “It has nothing to do with cognitive abilities, that has been proven. It is about consistent, deeply entrenched stereotypes.”

The stubborn gap between men and women in STEM is evident from an early age, and continues through university to the workplace, according to “Bridging the Digital Gender Divide,” a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.) released in October.