The Power of STEAM
By Erica Zwilling,
Holy Child Academy
Drexel Hill, PA

This fall I am excited to be joining the Holy Child Academy faculty as the STEAM Lab facilitator. We installed the STEAM Lab in June and opened for summer camp in July. The STEAM Lab takes STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) a step further by including an “A” for Arts (Digital Arts and Communications) – skills highly in demand in today’s society.

At Holy Child Academy we believe it is essential to give this opportunity to our students to prepare them for tomorrow’s job market. Workers of tomorrow will face an ever-changing, technology-driven world. They will need the skills and experiences to adapt to new opportunities.

The cognitive skills and conceptual knowledge of traditional subjects are still the resources and groundwork necessary to prepare students for tomorrow. However, today’s students need more. Our STEAM Lab complements their education by allowing our students to develop 21st-century skills (critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication, project management, technology use) that they will need to navigate and succeed in whatever field they choose in the future.

Yet for these skills to develop in the students, my roles is less about teaching and more about facilitation. We must give students the opportunity to fail and try again. During the first days of STEAM camp as students were exploring this new environment, I would often hear “How do I do this?” and “I need help.” The traditional model of teaching would have me show them how to do it. As a facilitator, I needed to resist the natural urge to jump in and help. Instead, I provided them with the resources to succeed and encouraged them to find a solution on their own.

In the STEAM Lab, the students work at their own pace. They take responsibility for their own learning. This allows them to develop confidence in their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. In the words of Cornelia Connelly: “Trust the children and never let your confidence in them be easily shaken. Confidence begets confidence.” Furthermore, confidence and perseverance begets success!

Maybe because of all this, the STEAM Lab is also a place infused with a “bright and joyful spirit.” Our students are eager to explore, discover and design. I am excited to begin the school year as the facilitator of the STEAM Lab, assisting students in their exploration and learning about science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.