Full Steam Ahead!

We all know that Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) has been a pioneer in the STEM education
movement with nine certified STEM education schools, but did you know that GCPS also has a STEAM certified school? But wait… Where did this previously absent “A” come from and how did she
even get invited to the STEM party?

We asked Bonnie Brush, executive director for curriculum and instruction at GCPS, to spread some light on this mysterious addition and what STEAM education can do for students, as well as our community…

Q: Can you help us understand STEAM education and how it is incorporated into the school system?
A: STEAM education is an approach to learning that uses the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics to engage students in relevant, rigorous, engaging learning to solve real-world problems. In Gwinnett County Public Schools, we have nine STEM-certified schools and one STEAM-certified school. Coleman Middle School was the first certified STEAM middle school, and it was the second certified whole middle school in Georgia. Through STEAM education, students can apply content from multiple disciplines to solve real-world problems through project- and problem-based learning. Teachers and students engage with partners in the field of arts, businesses, colleges and community partners to make connections between the classroom and industry.

Q: We’re used to hearing about STEM education, and then it turned into STEAM. How did arts get into the mix?
A: The arts are instrumental in teaching creative problem-solving, innovation
and empathy. The arts provide hands-on opportunities for students to engage with the curriculum and prepare students for future careers in the growing creative industries.

Q: What types of opportunities and unique experiences do students get to experience through the arts programs?
A: Students engage in interdisciplinary problem and project-based learning where they apply design thinking and/or the engineering design process to explore learning that intentionally integrates the arts within science and math. Learning with and through technology, students at the secondary level explore areas like graphic design, music technology, television and film, animation and game design. The integration of the arts allows students to apply their talents and skills to creatively express their learning. STEAM better prepares our students for the future ahead of them.

Q: How does STEAM education benefit the students and our community?
A: Gwinnett County Public Schools is focused on improving student achievement in the areas of science, technology, mathematics and engineering with a transformational goal to integrate these content areas in a way that promotes problem-solving, critical thinking and collaboration among teachers, students and community partners.

Q: What does the future of STEAM education look like in Gwinnett County?
A: The future of STEAM education looks bright in Gwinnett County Public Schools. We will continue to innovate, integrate and engage students in relevant, creative learning through a unique STEAM approach for our students.