STEAM Education FAQ

Orange Charter School is well on its way to becoming an authentic STEAM learning environment!


What is STEAM education & how does it differ from STEM?

STEAM is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) teaching & learning built around an Arts foundation. Whereas STEM tends to focus on purely technical elements, STEAM is careful to not overlook the importance of creative/expressive elements such as design, communication/performance, & teamwork skills.

We purposely work to infuse the curriculum with each of the  above (S-T-E-A-M) elements. These elements rarely work in isolation. Teachers work in teams to find & create “natural-fit” opportunities for interdisciplinary, group-based learning according to grade-level and time of year. There is an emphasis on production/”making things”.

What are the trademarks of STEAM teaching & learning?

STEAM education is interdisciplinary (blends multiple subjects), hands-on, collaborative/group-based, & often tied to topics of real-world significance.

STEAM provides atypically high levels of technology & arts integration, especially.

As time proceeds and we acquire more STEAM-based training and resources, kids at all grade levels will receive discrete lessons in engineering. This has already begun happening. We want kids to realize that “we’re all engineers” (problem-solvers).

STEAM provides kids with regular opportunities for open-ended design, which in turn promotes innovative/original thinking.

(See photo gallery and video links below.)

Why adopt a STEAM instructional model & why now?

As is well-documented by multiple media and research outlets, we are preparing our students for entry into a diverse, rapidly-transforming, technology-and-information-rich, unpredictable global society. There are endless opportunities and challenges found here.

Creative, confident, collaborative, & technically-sound problem-solvers are most likely to thrive in this new era.

We firmly believe that a STEAM approach is the most promising avenue to prepare kids for such a future.

Does STEAM replace the regular curriculum?

No, STEAM itself is not a curriculum, but rather an instructional framework/teaching methodology. As a North Carolina public school, our end-of-year learning targets are still based upon the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Reading & Math & the NC Essential Standards (NCES) for Science & Social Studies. STEAM is the path we will follow to attain these standards. Furthermore, we will begin offering stand-alone, interest-based STEAM elective courses such as LEGO Robotics & computer programming to our older students (grades 5-8) starting in Fall 2014. Again, this will supplement, not replace, our expansive current Arts-based enrichment offerings (Band, Strings, Performing Arts).

Whereas the CCSS & NCES serve as the “ground floor” or the bare minimum that we are required to cover, STEAM is the “skyscraper” built upon this foundation that will take our kids’ learning to (literal & figurative) new heights!

What are the benefits of STEAM education?

A primary goal of STEAM education is preparing kids for the future workplace. The National Math & Science Initiative estimates that  STE(A)M job creation will grow 17% over the next decade as opposed to just 9.8% for non-STE(A)M positions.

Not to mention, STEAM makes learning more fun, challenging, & relevant. Kids & teachers both love coming to school.

What does STEAM teaching & learning really look like?

Check out photos from our 1st-year STEAM adoption & an informational video from our STEAM training partner, Georgette Yakman from

As you can see, things are “FULL STEAM AHEAD” at Orange Charter School!!!