STEAM education is making its way across the country. The alliance of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math are preparing students of all ages for future jobs, education, and discoveries. According to the Department of Commerce, STEM/STEAM jobs will continue to grow over the next decade at a staggering rate of 17 percent—compared with an estimated 9.8 percent growth in other occupations.
How do you prepare for such an undertaking? Here are some steps to take before your start:
Know What You Want. Knowing what you want is critical in putting together a program. Administrators, parents, and community members want to know if their investment is making a difference, so be prepared with desired learning outcomes or evidence of impact. Classroom teachers and school administrators need to know how STEAM is being defined in their school or district. Is there a strategy? Is there a grant making process, protocol, or procedure in your school or school system?
Create a sustainable project plan. It’s worth the time and effort to make sure your project has well-defined objectives and a clear path to success. An idea on how to accomplish this would be to create a steering committee of teachers and parents for your project to build momentum and brainstorm idea.
Create a budget. Funding sources want a clear breakdown of how you’ll pay for all the supplies needed, the grants you want to apply for, and, sometimes, what other funding sources you have in-place and are considering tapping into.
Make a strong case. The “needs” statement drives your entire project. Make sure you’re clear about your mission and how it solves the challenges that your classroom faces. Do you need to invest in digital curricula to help tutor students who are falling behind? How many students? What are the test scores? Spell out all of the details.
Write a persuasive project abstract. The “project abstract” is a summary of your project needs, goals, objectives, and budget—all within a few paragraphs or a page at the most. Make it clear, so that someone without your understanding of science or math can understand the importance of the project. Make it easy for the reader to understand your main points with subheads and bullets. Above all, help the funder to get excited about engaging students in active learning and transforming your school!
Use SMART goals. “Smart” goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Take the time to detail all project activities and make sure that your budget narrative closely matches the description of the activities. Carefully measure whether the stated project objectives are being met in a timely manner
Build credibility. Make sure you identify key parents, teachers, and other community members who are committed to helping you carry out the program. Some funders will accept a letter of support from a prominent community member.
Be collaborative. Brainstorm with other teachers, parents, and community stakeholders who may have a passion for your project.
Being prepared is one of the smartest things you can do to get your STEAM project underway. Whether it’s the basics of working between two subjects, or turning a good part of your school into a STEAM curriculum, the more you are prepared, the less surprised you will be at every turn.