While literacy is not included in the STEAM acronym, it is still a fundamental building block of science education. Scientific literacy implies that students can pose and evaluate arguments based on evidence. Literacy skills can be implemented throughout this process in a variety of ways. For example, students seeking to learn about their favorite animal need to be able to decipher and pull main ideas from nonfiction text. This technique of “reading for information” becomes more important as students enter middle and high school, but it is still being practiced at the elementary school level. Reading for information is an important skill which will benefit students throughout their lives as they become informed and literate citizens. A scientifically literate person is one who can identify scientific issues locally and globally and use source information in order to form an opinion and successfully communicate it. With the sometimes overwhelming amount of information available to us, it is extremely important to be able to objectively explore and understand material in this way.
Another important literacy aspect of STEAM is the ability to communicate information. Students must be able to write about and verbalize information that they are studying. Scientists must be able to make their arguments clear in order for them to have an impact. To build this skill, we foster communication and confidence through project based learning. This gives students an opportunity to design and test their ideas in a small classroom setting where their voice can be heard. Students who may typically be reluctant to verbalize their opinions and ideas can take a leadership role in their small group. Through the practice of public speaking and nonfiction writing skills we can set students up for future success.
STEAM is currently a popular topic in education, which is due to the fact that it is directly tied to future workforce requirements. By introducing students to STEAM, parents and teachers can create a fun and engaging way to not only make literacy meaningful but to provide students with the skills to succeed in school and beyond.