What is STEAM education?

STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. This type of learning focuses on sparking imagination and creativity through the arts.  It uses a variety of art which can include visual arts, language arts, physical arts, music, and more.  Many people wonder STEM VS STEAM which is better? Or what is the difference?


STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.  

STEM is more prevalent in educational resources, while the “arts” are a recent addition.  

The main difference between STEM and STEAM is that STEM focuses on scientific concepts.  STEM also focuses on deductive reasoning, problem-solving, inductive reasoning, and problem sensitivity.  Whereas STEAM investigates the same concepts but does this through inquiry and problem bases learning methods using a creative process.  STEAM focuses on creativity and innovation, crucial thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, flexibility, and adaptability. Whether you pick STEAM VS STEM your students are gaining tons of Hands-On learning

STEAM and STEM Challenge Ideas for Elementary Students

These are just a few activities that can be used in your classroom that utilize STEAM and STEM (not STEAM VS STEM).  

Balloon Tower

Create the tallest balloon tower.  For this activity, you will need a packet of multi-colored balloons and a roll of tape per team. Sufficient table space is needed for each team to work on their tower.  Introduce the exercise by stating that the challenge is to build the tallest, most cost-effective free-standing tower.  Give students a time limit to build this tower, such as 10 minutes or whatever time is sufficient for this activity.  Each group will have their assigned balloons.  Start the activity and the timer.  The goal is to see who can create the tallest tower within the given time.  

Books Vs. Paper

How many books can a piece of paper hold?  For this activity, you will need a letter-size copy paper, tape, and books.  Start on the short end of the paper and roll your sheet of paper into a cylinder.  Tape the cylinder closed.  Stand your cylinder on a level surface, such as a table or a hard floor.  Begin to carefully stack books one by one on top of the cylinder.  Make sure they are centered over the cylinder as you place them.  How many books can you stack?  You can try other shapes and sizes such as a tall cylinder or a short cylinder shape.  

S’Mores with NO Fire

Making a s’more without a fire. First, you will need to gather the materials needed for this activity. You will need graham crackers, marshmallows, and some plain chocolate. If you like, you can provide skewers for your students to use.  Give each child the same amount of materials and then give them a challenge. The first challenge you can give them is to have each student make a tower using the materials that are in front of them. Another challenge you can give is to make something that would hold four pieces of chocolate off the table.   

Bridge of Legos

Creating a bridge for a Lego car to cross.  This activity is used to encourage kids to explore, compare, and combine different structures until they find one that works.  Discuss with your kids the different types of bridges.  Have them choose a bridge design.  They will then see if the bridge holds up when the Lego car drives over.  

My Favorite STEM Challenge!

 Last but not least….a hands on STEM challenge to build a maze using sweet treats! How can you go wrong? This STEM lesson engages the students with a maze designing and building challenge. The kids will follow the STEM learning steps to design, create, test, and reflect upon their creation. Candy is used to make the learning fun! Kids will “shop” for different pieces of candy to use as the material for their mazes. After designing a blueprint of their idea, the kids will try to use the magnetic rod to lead the metal ball through the maze successfully. Full lesson plan, video links, shopping list, organizers, and maze warm up are included! Great for grades K-3. Check out more about this one here!

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