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Wednesday, December 7, 2022


Incorporate art in STEM fields to encourage creative thinking

STEM is the next big thing. Short for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM fields are huge for students entering college.

According to Forbes, accounting, computer science and multiple types of engineering are in high demand for employers. Conversely, majors in the arts and humanities are ranked by Forbes as being among the 10 worst college majors. But the gulf between the arts and the sciences may not be as wide as people think.

Multiple studies show that art and music can have an impact on student learning. Texas educators have even implemented a program started by the Rhode Island School of Design called From STEM to STEAM, emphasizing the role of art and design in teaching math, science, engineering and technology.

At UH, STEM majors are already injecting some art into their science.

Chemistry student Jaimie Nguyen is vice president of the Pre-Medical Collegiate Orchestra, a group that formed in Spring 2013. Nguyen said most of the members are STEM majors, although the orchestra is open to all who have previous experience playing instruments.

“Our goal, in short, is to (provide) a safe haven for non-music majors to come and play music to express themselves while pursuing their studies,” Nguyen said. “One thing for sure music taught me was hard work, practice and dedication.”

Nguyen also said she believes math and science require creative thinking.

“Some of the most important scientific discoveries, such as penicillin and plastic, were discovered accidentally and re-purposed to benefit society. The littlest idea may be the ignition to a new discovery.”

The interdependence between creative arts and hard sciences is what the STEM to STEAM program seeks to take advantage of. The program is founded on an ideal expressed by 19th-century photographer Charles Negre, who said that “where science ends, art begins.”

Educators are urged to see arts and STEM not as separate entities but as disciplines that can feed off each other and work together to encourage student success.

According to, “art can serve a practical function. Students might apply design and decoration to products that were created during … a design challenge.”

However, the main goal of STEM to STEAM is “not to teach art but to apply art in real situations. Applied knowledge leads to deeper learning.”

In today’s climate, the arts and sciences are moving closer together. Students are beginning to view each discipline not as its own island, but as part of a larger chain of knowledge. As education moves toward a more interdisciplinary perspective, students will likely become more able to solve problems, learn to work hard and ultimately achieve their goals.

Opinion columnist Elizabeth Murphy is an advertising sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

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