Labels are Limiting: Become Yourself

 Life can be tricky. Be trickier.
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
— Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love
————————————————————————————————————————-
STEAM means choice. STEAM means being able to adapt to any situation. A few years ago I read that it was wiser to do what you love to than follow hot industries. It may be a cliche, but on a practical level, the area you will be most adept at professionally is the same domain in which you are intrinsically motivated to learn(i.e. follow your INTERESTS). The umbrella of STEAM extends to cover any conceivable interest or goal.
If you tell a gamer that they learn and preform better if the content and task is engaging to them on a personal level, they might look at you like you just declared the geocentric model of the universe as flawed. It may be blatantly obvious to a people who routinely have their preferences tailored to by game developers, but customization is the most effective, and fun, way to do things. Why shouldn’t your learning revolve around your whims the same way?
In a CRPG (Computer Role Playing Game), especially games by Bethesda Game Studios, you aren’t usually told what blend of skills will best suit your character’s, or avatar’s, future career as an

Class selection screen from 2006’s The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

adventurer. You are presented with an open world and several hints, but there is no reason that you can’t decide that you want to play as an Orc (typically seen as blood thirsty, Tolkien-esquemonsters), who has decided to become a Monk. Or you can craft a new archetype altogether if you prefer! A good RPG will not stand in the way of your expression, and indeed makes itself as open to such unforeseen play styles. Why should the acquisition of skills, knowledge, and tools in the ‘real’ world be any different?

STEAM encapsulates the spectrum of human ability. I have yet to think of a worthwhile human endeavor that does not fall within this framework. If I were in the business of making RPGs, I’d use STEAM in lieu of the classic attribute format of: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence,….etc. STEAM a much more of an appropriate paradigm for representing aptitude. Even if you favor one element over the rest, being literate in all five domains will translate to the pedagogical equivalent of a well balanced character sheet. And naturally, it is important to be balanced. You may be a master alchemist, but if your Charisma is so low that you are unable to buy potion ingredients from the shopkeep for lack of people skills, you won’t be doing much alchemy.
The same goes for the science teacher who lacks a poetic bone in their body and thusly mutates the wonders of the cosmos into a dry exercise in rote memorization. Or the artist that dismisses the findings of science as dead and without romance. What the world needs now is a way to overcome all the problems that stand before us. STEAM provides the means to a solution, but perhaps more importantly it provides a means of the unification of our shared human heritage. The polymaths of the last Renaissance did not define themselves as ‘just’ a Mathematician, ‘just’ a Scientist, ‘just’ an Artist, or ‘just’ an Engineer. Why should the people of the this renaissance adhere to distinctions crafted relatively recently and rather arbitrarily? Let us cast off the broken notions of these modern ‘specializations’. Experts range from limited in use, to downright dangerous in tunnel-vison induced blindness to monsters lurking in the peripheral. Look to the economic downturn that the ‘top economic experts’ neither predicted nor prevented for evidence as to what can happen when the concept of static mastery is tested by a dynamic reality.
Renaissance, revolution, revival, whatever you call it, the STEAM movement seems new, but it has old precedents.
Hortus_Deliciarum,_Die_Philosophie_mit_den_sieben_freien_Künsten
“The seven liberal arts”— from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century)

In classical antiquity, young aristocrats were given an education that did not trade breadth for depth.They studied 7 arts: grammar, logic, and rhetoric as well as arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy/cosmology. Ancient Greek intellectuals just called them ‘liberal arts’. Liberal as in ‘worthy of a free person’, I’d say you could easily trade ‘worthy’ for ‘essential’. Because to be truly free, we must have truth, and to find truth we need a myriad of tools.

During the renaissance, ancient Greek thinking on multidisciplinary came back in vogue. The wellspring of innovation that came from the polymaths like Leonardo has left an enduring legacy. The concept of tearing down arbitrary borders during a time of rebirth is apt in the new millennium, an age of information, strife, and complexity. We all deserve to be well equipped for the tasks ahead. I expect STEAM is a step towards that goal.
-Kasey

Sometimes, Science Is more Art than Science

“Sometimes, Morty, Science is more art than science.” Is what animated character, Rick, from Adult Swim’s “Rick and Morty” says to his grandson, after completely making much of humanity into Cronenbergian mutant beings. That line is a bit of a joke on the show, but I took it to mean some writer on the show maybe slyly trying to say something about the nature of science that totally resonates with me.
Creativity fascinates me to no end, and perhaps I may end up in a lab to try to look at the creative process in great detail in many ways (some may think the idea to be beyond the reach of any mere human’s understanding). But I fear, even though many do see it as essential to be a great artist, some might not see it as important in science. Non-scientists may only perhaps see it as what Thomas S. Kuhn called ‘normal-science’ that is, the slow mundane  process of: fact-collecting, fact-checking, replicating past experiments, expanding experiments, etc… or to put it simply: the boring process of following highly repetitive methods. This view is perhaps mostly the result of taking lab courses in school. But at many times when investigating something in nature, a nimble and highly imaginative mind is most needed. As Firestein writes, in the book I recommend in our reading list here at the STEAM HUB, what really gets all scientists stir-crazy and excited to go to work is not learning a list of boring facts, it’s what the scientists don’t know that begs them to really think hard and come up some new knowledge or understanding. Like a empty canvas an artist has yet to start, the possibilities seem endless and tantalizing. Only in science, the empty canvas is the gaps in knowledge in the particular field any scientist is working in. The gap in knowledge can’t be filled with anything at the scientist’s whim, it must cohere with some of the solidly known facts in the appropriate field, but really it takes a creative spirit to want and enjoy thinking about how to fill that gap or gaps in science.  To just be satisfied with current explanations found it science books, is to be a geeky smug know-it-all, not a real scientist. Really good scientists are painfully aware of the mysteries in their favorite discipline of choice, and want nothing more than the creative insight that will make everything fall into place and provide someway to test the idea. The problem of even testing the novel insight, may prove to have some challenges that drive a more creative need in the scientists. Yes Art and Science as a process resemble each other.  They do this through the novel-seeking, high connectivity in thoughts, and playfulness that overlaps with the “whatever it is that creativity is”, to make me say all the time, “that science is sometimes more art than science.”

(Anthony Garcia)

Julian Beever

An excellent example of the use of STEAM is the artist Julian Beever. Born in the U.K. he has become a well-known artist worldwide. He became famous through his 3D pavement drawings. His primary technique for drawing is a type of projection method known as anamorphosis which generates a 3D illusion when seen from the right angle. Interesting to mention that he came up with this technique out of curiosity. This has led him to being part of a TV series, writing a book, and even gaining commissions from commercials.

-Monica

Breaking Borders

I was familiar with the concept of STEM however until recently I heard about STEAM which is the addition of art to the well-known science, technology, engineering, and math. I was still unsure about what this meant. So I set out to do a little investigation. I realized that STEAM is more than just the addition of art. It opens up a world of infinite opportunities. It eliminates the preexisting borders of certain subjects. For example, combining art and math. Besides providing the necessary skills needed to be successful in the 21st century it will also prove to allow creativity and imagination to enter the thinking process. STEAM uses the STEM concepts, but will allow people to use their creativity and imagination. For example, in Boston Academy for the Arts students of a dance class do more than just perform they use electrical currents to light up fabrics. This seems incredibly interesting because what appears to be two different pathways are meeting to create an astonishing result. For my part I cannot wait to see what STEAM has to offer and what everyone might be able to do with it. So join us in this incredible journey where no borders exist and where your imagination and creativity are in control.

IMG_20151028_164656770

-Monica

If you are concerned about where your food comes from, this is the book for you.

OmnivoresDilemma_full

I am currently enrolled in  Sustainable World (SUS110), a class with Steven Emrick and we are reading, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

Without giving away too much, it’s broken up into three major sections. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is about the corn industry, cattle “ranching”, agriculture policy, and how America evolved into an a country of sugar consumers, habitual eaters, and obese diabetics. The book also brings into question the industrial food complex and it’s affects on the environment. Alternative types of agriculture and food production are discussed as a healthier and cleaner option for the environment. Not to mention, Michael Pollan has a witty tone that is comical and amusing.

A series of questions present itself in Omnivore’s Dilemma and leaves you “hungry” for more. Which industry is really beneficial in regards to the foods we eat, our health and the environment? How does nature work, how do we defy nature, and should we destroy it and replace it with genetically modified species? When you go to McDonalds or the grocery store, what are you really buying? Who benefits more from what you eat, you or the producer? Do we continue down the path of going to extreme lengths to produce food for the consumer or the producer? Can the citizens of the world sustain themselves if we return to the good ol’ days of hunting and foraging for food?

This book will leave you questioning whether or not to eat that steak, or drink that soda.                ((O).(O))

-jeri 🙂

Discovering STEAM

Throughout my life, I’ve always felt in touch or in tune with my surroundings, the environment at large; “my world”.I knew that nature and creativity was my calling, I just didn’t know how I was going to turn what I love into a career. In my native culture, every “thing” has a spirit, and a purpose. My spirit has been yearning for a purpose, and I feel like I have finally found it. It feels so right, my life has shifted because of STEAM. I can’t help but feed this monster in me to make a difference, to make a commitment to earth and to challenge myself and others.

I have been in limbo with my major for the past 3 years; from business administration to math, then chemistry. I knew I wanted to have a career in STEM, only I didn’t know what to do. Family, friends, the instructors, the mass media, scholastic resources, all say that STEM is the future, so I was planning my future based on that. I attempted to join the STEM club on campus, but it just didn’t appeal to me. So I just kept chugging along, taking my classes, reading what I find interesting, exploring my own sense of STEM, and slowly began to see the bigger picture for the future and how was I going to be involved in it.

After developing my own sense of science and what I wanted to do, I was introduced to STEAM. What is STEAM? Many of us, have heard of STEM, right? Well STEAM is an upgraded version of STEM. STEAM= Science + Technology + Engineering + ARTS + Mathematics.

STEAM is the new gateway to entering a far more advance and progressive world than yesterday. STEAM is a movement set forth into motion by employers and educators. STEAM is the integration of STEM with the Arts, and is providing me and others such as yourself, a better understanding of what is expected of us. Right now, the world is technologically evolving fast and innovation is catapulting to new heights. STEAM is the fundamental foundation of generating a more intellectual individual that has the capacity to solve the world’s problems. We need a generation that understands the dynamic world of art and science, and the value of integrating concepts across the map. For example, the electromagnetic spectrum, is the range of which frequencies of radiation are absorbed or emitted. This is the scale at which we can see visible light, or colors; is taught on a large scale from jewelry making, art, graphic design to biology, chemistry, and math. How can we integrate this knowledge into a designing a holographic video game, invent a tree that absorbs and emits light, or a self-designing, solar powered tattoo machine? Altogether, the collaboration of concepts can help to invent, create, and produce products that embody the future.

In my journey to self-discovery, in the past few month; I have learned to understand the combination of arts and science as a holistic property, and I believe in this concept. STEAM has helped me to understand the importance of collaboration and team work. How are we going to change the world? This question has been presented to me numerous times. So based on this question, I started thinking, alternative energy and agriculture are my two biggest concerns…and being a jewelry artist. Ha! 🙂 First off, how much longer do we have to damage the earth to realize burning fossil fuels is not the best source of energy moving forward into the future. Furthermore, agriculture in the city, whether it be urban organic or hydroponic gardening, in your yard, is a form of sustainability that could benefit the air we breathe, the carbon emissions, eating healthy, and investing in the future….this is how I stumbled upon Sustainability as a career choice and how I got involved with STEAM.

We have no time to waste, the planet is depending on its homo sapien inhabitants to create a solution for alternate energy, and with corporate investors worldwide “divesting” in the carbon train, who knows what’s in store for the future. As a whole, we need to approach this imminent situation with diligence for the planet we live on, it’s going to be up to us to solve the future’s problems. We need to be tested, motivated, shocked, intrigued, creative, innovative, and pioneers in an even more advance technological state. It’s the future! It’s a movement. It’s a Revolution! Get on Board! STEAM is the future for everyone, it will affect you one way or another. My instructors influence my education for the better, and I want to make the same impact on somebody else’s life whether they know it or not. STEAM has provided me an opportunity to understand my position in this world. And I wish the best for you and your future. Study hard this semester and don’t be afraid of a little STEAM.

selfie 1

-jeri 🙂

 

About The STEAM HUB

The STEAM HUB is designed to be a source of STEAM  (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) resources and information with regard to use in higher education.  Our aim is to have both local and global items of interest.

The STEAM Hub is created and produced by a group of students and staff from Glendale Community College in Arizona (a Maricopa Community College) who are part of the campus STEAM Team.  We hope to educate and inspire others about the possibilities of interdisciplinary STEAM through our postings.

We are:

Jerilyn Yazzie, Sustainability Major and Student STEAM Program Specialist

Kasey Seymour, Undecided Major

Monica Guevara, Computer Science Major

Anthony Garcia, Biology major

Kristin Bennes, STEAM Program Specialist (Staff Intern)