Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics

In STEAM education, students combine Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics to learn, explore, and solve problems in new ways. Why the A? STEAM includes the “A” for Arts practices and principles. STEAM takes STEM to the next level by emphasizing innovation, design, and aesthetics. 

Video: FCPS Students Engage in STEAM

3 Reasons Why STEAM is Good for ALL Students

1. STEAM engages students in interactive, hands-on learning.

Students learn by experiencing and doing. They problem-solve in teams and build on their interests with a teacher as a guide.  

2. STEAM connects learning across subjects through problem-solving, exploration, and design.

Students uncover new possibilities when they connect ideas from STEAM subjects. 

3. STEAM prepares students for success beyond the classroom.

Students develop deep content knowledge and the skills employers seek in our rapidly changing world.

Where is STEAM?

STEAM takes place in many different settings. Teachers integrate STEAM into classrooms, labs, before- or after-school programs, robotics clubs, and special events for families. FCPS teachers are continuously creating innovative opportunities for students to engage in STEAM.

FCPS Student Success Using STEAM Approach

photo of five Marshall HS studentsDesign Violin Bow Prosthetic

Five Marshall High School students discovered that an FCPS elementary student wanted to play the violin, but could not hold the bow in her hand. They designed and 3D printed a prosthesis to make it possible for the student to hold a bow and play the violin. Read more about the project team at Marshall HS.

STEAM Approach: Students connect engineering, biology, physiology, and artistic design  to help another student create music.

Invent Tool to Diagnose Brain Cancer 

photo of Kavya KopparapuKavya Kopparapu developed a new, cost-effective method for diagnosing glioblastoma brain cancer. She studied the technology for creating maps of mountains and valleys on the surface of the Earth. Then, she used those ideas and computer science to compare patterns on the surface of cancer cells to healthy cells under a microscope. Read more about Kavya on the Fairfax Times website. Photo credit: Davidson Inst. for Talent Development.

STEAM Approach: A student connects imaging technology, biology, and computer science to diagnose cancer.

image of Elara STEM Girl bookPublish Book Encouraging Girls in STEM

Leela Ayyar wrote a children’s book to encourage girls to become leaders in STEM. This started as a school research project. Her goal was to help solve the problem of too few girls and minorities in STEM classes and careers. In her book, a young girl is a role model for STEM success. Read more about Leela’s Love of STEM.

STEAM Approach: A student connects STEM and language arts to engage girls in STEM.

Develop Solutions to Global Challenges in Engineering

Edison HS students building a greenhouseStudents in the Edison High School Global STEM Challenges Program (GSCP) solve real world problems, such as access to food, clean water, and sustainable energy. For example, during one year of the three-year program, students design and build a greenhouse to maximize food production. Read more about the GSCP at Edison HS.

STEAM Approach: Students connect biology, chemistry, and engineering to design greenhouses that address food scarcity.

STEAM Connects to Portrait of a Graduate Skills

STEAM helps students develop the FCPS Portrait of a Graduate 21st century skills. Students investigate current, real-world problems. They collaborate in groups, ask questions, think critically, and communicate their thinking. Student persist through challenge to develop resilience and goal directed skills. 
Students develop creative solutions to benefit the community. In the process, students explore STEAM careers and develop as ethical and global citizens.

STEAM Connects to Project Based Learning (PBL)

In STEAM, the student learning experience often begins with a question that drives the learning. This approach to learning is called Project Based Learning (PBL). Students explore an open-ended challenge and make meaningful contributions to our local and global communities.

How Does STEAM Engage Students in Problem Solving?

Circular image showing the steps in a design process
Design practices.

STEAM engages students in using the problem solving tools from every content area. Computational thinking and design practices are two of many examples of problem solving practices.

When using computational thinking practices to solve problems, students break problems into smaller parts (decompose), look for patterns (generalize), and organize step-by-step solutions (algorithms) that a computer can follow. 

Students also use design practices from engineering and the arts in STEAM. These practices help students uncover new possibilities. Students ask questions, imagine solutions, plan, create, test ideas, and make improvements along the way.

FCPS STEAM Connects to Computer Science (CS)

Computer Science empowers students to lead in today’s data-rich and interconnected world. The FCPS STEAM program supports computer science integration. Read more about Computer Science in FCPS.

STEAM and Computer Science Actively Advance Equity

STEAM and computer science empower students from an early age to create and innovate. Students use computer science and engineering practices to explore real world problems and design solutions.

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More Resources – STEAM Opportunities in Fairfax County

Be sure to visit the STEAM Opportunities for Fairfax County Youth webpage to learn about STEAM programs from Fairfax parks, libraries, and more. The “STEAM Map” feature on that webpage allows you to enter a street address to search for STEAM opportunities near you. Find out where you can use a 3D printer, learn about astronomy, become a CyberPatriot, and more.