STEM vs. STEAM Education: What’s the Difference?

Middle School Student Wearing Goggles and Working on Experiment


The STEM Education Model

The STEM model is an approach to education created to meet the needs of a continually growing and evolving 21st-century economy. The model was designed to pave the way for future economic success, addressing the need for a thriving workforce that’s well-versed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Since its development, there’s been a widespread investment in schools across the country. Some examples of STEM-incorporated learning includes:

  • Using computer labs or portable devices
  • Incorporating hands-on exploration to lesson plans
  • Offering opportunities to utilize robotics in the classroom
  • Bring-your-own-device initiatives


The STEAM Education Model

Sweetwater students and teacher using tablets and smiling

STEAM is an educational approach that has all the wonderful benefits that come from the STEM model, but takes it a step further. STEAM uses science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) as a means for encouraging discussion, questions, criticism, innovation and critical thinking. It creates a full spectrum of skills that can be applied in everyday life. 


Why STEAM Education Is Important

Having a core understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is important, but the major component that’s missing in STEM is the development of creativity and innovation that comes with connecting through the arts. To be successful in a competitive workforce, you have to have so much more than core skills in STEM—you need to be able to create, invent and imagine, as well.


STEAM at Sweetwater Episcopal Academy

Sweetwater Episcopal Academy students laughing and looking at tablets


We’ve seen how applying STEAM to the Sweetwater curriculum has made that happen for students, which is why it’s such a core part of learning. 

With STEAM, we see students who take risks, think outside the box, participate in experiential learning, show an ability to be resourceful and work together, and much more. Students also learn the value of perseverance, an ability that only results from productive struggle. We believe STEAM education (paired with the Kind Zone and a supportive community) helps foster the innovators, educators, pioneers and leaders of the next generation.



Ready to learn more about STEAM at Sweetwater Episcopal Academy? Schedule a tour to visit our campus and see what we have to offer for yourself!

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