Northwestern Hosts Summit to Inspire STEAM Education Innovation

Northwestern Hosts Summit to Inspire STEAM Education Innovation

Steam Summit 2015

How can STEM education become more effective as STEAM? Many K-12 schools recognize the importance of learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, and a new challenge is to incorporate the arts to make STEM learning steam ahead.

To inspire K-12 education leaders, the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) planned Northwestern's first STEAM Summit on April 14 with the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern. The daylong event is intended to foster innovative thinking, collaboration and planning for K-12 STEAM teaching and learning.

“When we engage teachers and students in STEAM, the arts and design lead to richer problem solving and investigations than STEM alone provides,” says Kristen Perkins of OSEP, who serves as the Northwestern-ETHS partnership coordinator. “Adding in the arts to STEM in K-12 education helps prepare future scientists and engineers to engage both the creative and analytical thought processes.”

The STEAM Summit, called Leading Innovation by Design, brings together a select group of K-12, university and informal education leaders who are driving innovation in STEAM. The keynote speaker is Julio Ottino, dean of McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. Under Ottino’s leadership, the school emphasizes “whole brain engineering” that combines creative and artistic thinking with scientific thought.

Activities on the STEAM Summit agenda include the following:

  • Learning about innovative design thinking and education programs at the Segal Design Institute
  • Hearing from schools and organizations that are innovating with STEAM
  • Touring unique facilities at Northwestern tailored specifically for STEAM teaching and learning

Education presenters will describe innovative STEAM initiatives at Evanston Township High School, McGaw YMCA, DePaul College Prep and Lane Technical College Prep. Segal Design Institute presentations will include talks by Bruce Ankemann on art integration and collaboration at the university level and by Stacy Benjamin and Penny Hirsch on design thinking and communication.

Anne Stevens, senior designer for OSEP’s FUSE program, notes that innovative interdisciplinary projects and practice are key to successful STEM integration. “The arts are, and have always been, havens for this kind of rigorous creativity in schools. Integrating arts expertise into STEM learning is critical to STEM’s success in our educational system. As we have seen in our FUSE program, integrating the arts into STEM also appeals to a broader base of youth, introducing them to the opportunities and challenges of design in diverse fields," says Stevens.

The STEAM Summit takes place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 14 at the Segal Design Institute on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. It brings together approximately 40 K-12 participants with 15 participants from Segal and OSEP.

SESP's Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) connects K-12 students and teachers to the world-class STEM resources of Northwestern University. The Segal Design Institute at McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science educates design thinkers and explores research in human-centered design.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 5/4/15