The 21st century has seen increasing support for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education initiatives, and there is a growing body of support in favor of adding the Arts as another dimension. Arts Partners is helping to bridge these education priorities by infusing the creativity of high quality arts education into early childhood through high school learning in STEM subjects.dditions.
Arts Partners has experience in providing STEM Learning through the Arts programming to students in the Wichita area, where more than 21% of the jobs are STEM-related, according to a June 2013 study by the Brookings Institute that ranked Wichita 22nd among the 100 largest metro areas for STEM jobs.
According to a recent survey conducted by the American Management Association, “executives say they need a workforce fully equipped with skills beyond the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic in order to grow their businesses.” These skills include creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, flexibility, and adaptability. All of these skills can be developed through arts learning, and a growing number of leaders in business and in education recognize that the arts, used in concert with STEM subjects, increase the development of skills deemed necessary for our workforce to thrive in the global economy. Arts Partners is helping to educate the next generation of creative thinkers who will have a positive impact in their communities. During the 2012-2013 school year more than 50% of Arts Partners programming was STEM related, and the number is growing. Please visit our online program directory and use the advanced search to find STEM related programs.
Arts Partners has developed several programs in response to requests from the education and business communities to move from STEM to STEAM, the acronym for adding Art into the learning process. Our efforts have received national recognition with the 2011 Young Audiences Best Practice Award and invitations to present at the 2012 Young Audiences Annual Conference in Baltimore and the 2013 Young Audiences Annual Conference in New York City.
Arts Partners is currently participating in a consortium grant through Young Audiences and the National Endowment for the Arts developing model digital game design residencies in local middle school and high school classrooms, where teaching artists guide students through digital storytelling, video game design, and the creation of original music and art while students produce games focused on social awareness and change. This cutting edge program is being developed just as the Wichita Public Schools are introducing game design classes in several high schools.
STEM Research Project
Arts Partners receives a great deal of anecdotal evidence from teachers and teaching artists about how engaged and excited students are during STEM residencies and how this new learning “sticks” with them far beyond the classroom. We believe the next logical step is to use a third-party evaluator (Wichita State University Center for Research and Evaluation Services) to test our theory – that students are more engaged and interested in STEM subjects when the arts are used in significant, deliberate ways by teaching artists. Arts Partners received funding from Young Audiences Arts for Learning, Spirit AeroSystems, Cargill Meat Solutions and individual donors to support research in four elementary schools in the Wichita Public Schools during the 2013-2014 school year where we will evaluate the extent to which STEM learning using arts strategies increases engagement in and interest in the STEM subjects for elementary age students. The work done through this research project will help build a body of research around STEM learning though the arts not only in Wichita but also for the field at large.
Kansas Wolf Trap
Since 2006, Arts Partners has been the sponsoring organization for one of seventeen regional programs of Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, known as Kansas Wolf Trap (KWT). The goal of the KWT residencies is to provide professional development for early childhood teachers as well as performing arts experiences that enhance emergent literacy for 3- to 5-year-olds. We have five teaching artists who have each received a minimum of 55 hours of specialized training from Wolf Trap master teaching artists and we will continue to provide training for these talented artists.
Kansas Wolf Trap is preparing to implement Wolf Trap’s STEM Early Learning Through the Arts for 3- to 5-year-olds this fall as part of a U.S. Department of Education grant. Two Arts Partners/Kansas Wolf Trap staff members will attend a weeklong training during the summer of 2013 and then return to train all of our Wolf Trap teaching artists to use arts-integrated STEM teaching strategies that improve children's math learning. Over the next three years, one subject will be added each year (science, engineering and technology) to round out the STEM subjects.
The Kansas Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts program is the perfect complement to Arts Partners’ K-12 programs, enabling us to offer a continuum of services reaching the very youngest infants and toddlers through high school students who are preparing for life after graduation. We are now able to offer STEM Learning through the Arts programs at every age level for the young people in our area to help keep students interested and engaged in STEM learning