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Our Community has Access to STEAM Education for All Ages at the Spartanburg Science Center

February 07, 2019 | Features

Written by Mary A. Levens, Interim Executive Director of SSC and Retired Educator

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) has been around for a while; long enough for the community to see its outcomes and practices unfold.  In the last decade, we have seen an increase in math and science course offerings, higher expectations for testing, and movement toward project-based learning using STEM as the framework.

But STEM was never designed to exclude the other subject areas.  In reality, according to US News and World Report, the racial and gender gaps are widening in science and math, and one of the missing pieces is innovation.  The arts (liberal arts, fine arts, music, design-thinking, and language arts) are critical to the development of innovation.  STEM also requires, when appropriate, the artistic and design-related skills and thinking processes for student learning.


Every engineer that comes up with a new innovation uses more than just the four areas of STEM.  They need and use design thinking, creativity, communication, and artistic skills to make their innovation come to life.  Scientists are no longer that lone white-coated worker hold up in a laboratory.  They work together in open spaces, sharing ideas and discussing solutions.  


John Dewey believed in the desegregation of subjects and allowing children to just ask and obtain answers with their natural curiosity.  Finding a cure for disease also requires design thinking as well as communication skills in order to obtain support and funding. We believe that at the Spartanburg Science Center, we provide that fascination with STEM combined with the arts to allow students of all ages to imagine the possibilities while discovering the facts.  Children experience STEAM in our huge after-school programs; STEAM/STEM Nights, at our camps during the summer and on holidays; Hub City Robotics clubs and our Jr. FLL EXPO; programs, and field studies.  Adults have enjoyed the same experiences with our Adult Series on Distilled Spirits; our joining in on Art Walk and a lecture series as well as our family-oriented experiences like our Owl Prowls, Nature Hikes, astronomy nights, and programs that are presented to residents of retirement homes for lifelong learners.


What art brings to STEM education is the opportunity to expose children to more diverse learning opportunities in communication and expression.  This allows us to educate the WHOLE CHILD to become a global citizen.  Just because one’s expertise lies in the STEM area, this does not mean that they lack creativity and ingenuity.

We need students that who are not only competent but also motivated in bringing solutions to tomorrow’s problems.  We need to offer them a well-rounded education that enables them to make decisions that will impact the world and the way its people live.  The Spartanburg Science Center offers this type of educational support.


 “I don’t have strong views about whether arts should become a part of STEM or be self-standing.  What is important is that every human being deserves to learn about the arts and humanities, just as each person should be cognizant of the sciences.”
                     -   Dr. Howard Gardner

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