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The lead story on the front page of the Columbus Telegram on Monday, Sept. 9, was “STEM offerings focus of meetings — CPS will use meetings to gauge current status of programs, analyze their future.” I was hopeful that this headline included a typo but, alas, Columbus Public Schools is embracing STEM instead of STEAM.

“What is STEAM?” you ask. Well I am happy to enlighten you that STEAM is STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with the Arts. I think Philip Horvath said it best (via Twitter on theSTEM website), “STEM without art has no steam. Without imagination we build technology based on what is not on what could be.”

STEAM is a movement championed by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and is gaining momentum. In fact, one of the many case studies on the StemToSteam website is the 43rd season of Sesame Street which began Sept. 24, 2012. The case study stated that “The iconic educational program has announced that it’s 43rd season will focus on integrating the arts into its existing STEM focus.”

The introduction was an 11-minute episodic segment entitled, ‘Elmo the Musical.’ I am the Sesame Street generation (I was 2 years old when it began) and I say that if Elmo believes that we need to integrate the arts with science and technology then America better listen.

The STEAMnotSTEM website claims: “The future of the US economy rests on its ability to be a leader in the innovation that will be essential in creating the new industries and jobs that will be the heart of our new economy. Where the US has historically ranked 1st in innovation it now ranks between 3rd and 8th depending on the survey. We have taken steps to reverse this slide by embracing and funding the much needed improvements in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. . . . The competitors for that leadership, such as China and many other countries in Asia and Europe, include vigorous Arts curriculum as a national priority in their public school systems and we must do the same.”

I know I am not supposed to believe everything on the World Wide Web (a State Farm commercial says I shouldn’t) but I truly believe in the importance of art education for everyone.

That's why I signed a petition to the United States House of Representatives, which says: "We encourage the support of House Resolution 51: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that adding art and design into Federal programs that target the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields encourages innovation and economic growth in the United States." There is a link on the Arts Council’s Facebook page if you agree with Elmo and would also like to sign this petition.

Upcoming Events

Sponsored by the Columbus Arts Council & the Columbus Art Gallery

* On exhibit in the Columbus Art Gallery through Oct. 12 are four talented artists: photographer Jack Nordeen, oil painter Mario Arango, painter Donna Pozehl and gourd artist Bert Wagner.

* The StoryART program will be begin on Sept. 12, and continue every other Thursday through May. Pre-school age children listen to stories in the Children’s room of the Columbus Public Library and then come down to the art gallery for a related art project. This is a free activity and the times are 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

* The next Murder Mystery fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 26.

The Columbus Arts Council’s mission is to “enrich the community through the promotion and sponsorship of the arts.” Please use us as your local resource for opportunities to enrich your life with the arts. Visit our website at www.DiscoverTheArts.org, like us on Facebook and follow us on Pinterest.

Susan J. Schoenhofer is executive director of the Columbus Arts Council.

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