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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Picking Up STEAM in San Diego by John Eger

Next Friday, corporate technology leader, Qualcomm, will play host to a unique one-day forum organized by non-profit STEAM Connect, spelled STE [+a] M Connect, in San Diego.
It is major step forward to have Qualcomm, one of the largest and most influential companies in the region, embrace the STEAM event and make their views known as this was what the Conference Board in their report, "Ready in Innovate", was most concerned about, i.e., education and business alignment.
Recently, the Paul and Stacy Jacobs Foundation (Paul is CEO of Qualcomm and a Berkeley alum) donated $20 million to the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, for a new institute that will expand the role of art and design in engineering education.
In making the gift Jacobs said:
"In our interconnected innovation economy, it is not enough to provide our future engineering leaders with technical skills.... they must also learn how to work in interdisciplinary teams, how to iterate designs rapidly, how to manufacture sustainably, how to combine art and engineering, and how to address global markets."
During the day the community will hear about:
• California's initiative to create a blueprint for creative schools.
• Balboa Park's NSF funded experiment to create an incubator for schools using art based learning of STEM.
• Another NSF's Funded program called SEAD, an educational initiative aimed at elevating the role of art in science and vice versa.
• USD's masters program for educators to teach STEAM.
• National City's program to retrain teachers using art to teach math and science,
• And teachers using art to teach math, science and other complex subjects.
More and more people are talking about STEAM, adding the "A" to the science, engineering, math and technology initiative which first began under the second Bush administration.
STEAM Connect does what its name suggests.
STEAM Connect, located on the UCSD campus, is doing something about the need to create whole brain thinkers by bring together all the actors in the community on a regular basis. By emphasizing the need for both left-brain convergent and right brain divergent thinking in our schools, STE[+A}M is clearly elevating the discussion.
Art and cultural organizations, philanthropic organizations, business executives and educators--meet to converse with one another, hear what cutting edge thins are being done in the community, and collaborate to demonstrate what can happen when art and science are merged.
Across the country other communities are struggling to change their schools to insure young people get the new thinking skills the new economy demands. This approach of connecting the dots, bringing people in the community who share similar concerns, and highlighting the best applications of STEAM learning is one model that seems to work.
And getting businesses like Qualcomm on board makes this is a model to keep the idea of STEAM in the forefront of things every community must do to change the curriculum.
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