“I’m not good at directions. I’m so right-brained!”
“I have never been good with numbers.”
“I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”
For years, we have heard the theories that specific brain functions originate from the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It has been proposed that the left hemisphere is responsible for the more logical, analytical functions, as well as math and language, while the right side controls emotions and creative functions, including visual, spatial, artistic and musical abilities. Though it’s become common to lament the perceived one-sidedness of our brains according to our most dominant personality traits, the fact is that everyone utilizes both sides of their brain all the time. While it’s perhaps true that some individuals lean a bit more to one side or the other, the average human being develops these different brain functions to some degree via various experiences throughout their life.
When it comes down to it, to be well-rounded, high functioning, independent individuals, we must develop both the creative and analytical parts of our brain, wherever they reside, and we need to encourage this dual-development in our children as well. Summer camps that offer a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum help kids make these kinds of cross-brain connections. This ultimately makes learning not only fun, but effective and useful for so many different situations and challenges.
How Learning Occurs
Learning is about making connections. When we see or hear something new, we regard it in the context of our prior knowledge. STEAM education, an integrated approach, is based on the assertion that learning is optimal when the whole brain is engaged. It helps us make those connections. STEAM projects facilitate experiential learning, immersing kids in a real-world problem and giving them a real role in finding a solution. What could be better preparation for a future in our complex world?
This type of education benefits kids on many levels. One of the most basic is the license to create something new—something entirely of their own imagining. A powerful benefit of STEAM learning is exposure to design thinking and its application to all fields of learning. Galileo camps introduce kids to an innovation process inspired by the Stanford d.school. The Galileo Innovation Approach®, or GIA, provides a framework applied through the STEAM disciplines in a variety of week-long camp programs for kids from pre-K to those entering 8th grade. Immersion in the Innovator’s Mindset allows campers to view themselves as powerful problem solvers capable of truly innovative ideas.
The Right Mix of Science and Art
By adding A (arts) to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), STEAM curricula creates a well-balanced framework for learning at all ages. Consider a space exploration project where, in addition to designing, constructing and testing the flight of a spaceship propelled by air pressure, kids use their imagination and a variety of art supplies to create a vivid lunar landscape and a symmetrical extraterrestrial.
Alternatively, exploring the art and science of the human body can perfectly inspire both sides of their brains. Creativity will be engaged as kids mix and match facial features to show a range of emotions, then science and engineering will be employed as they examine the protective functions of the respiratory system.
Consider a Makerspace Challenge, in which kids are tasked with using simple materials to design and engineer useful and innovative inventions, like a Duck Tape® messenger bag and an animatronic animal. Add in outdoor games and activities that reinforce the learning, and a week of STEAM camp becomes an unforgettable adventure.
Finally, for kids who are always on the move, let them hit the “open road” on a road trip adventure that allows them to creatively engineer their way across America. Kids can hightail down the highway in a slingshot car, engineer a rubber band-powered ride designed to withstand a rollover test and traverse a variety of terrains, or use Albuquerque’s Central Avenue neon signs as inspiration for their own glow in the dark creations.
Achieving Whole Brain Balance
Though the benefits of arts-infused learning are well known, creative activities sometimes take a backseat due to budget cuts and high stakes testing. The opportunity to participate in a summer camp providing a well-rounded STEAM experience makes learning fun and engaging. But more than that, STEAM curriculum highlights activities that hit many centers in the brain, enhancing those important connections. As kids interact with their peers in real-world scenarios, they learn a process involving both creativity and analysis. The mindset they take away will help them shed insecurities and see themselves as whole brain learners capable of innovative thinking.
Check out all the options to explore STEAM curriculum at Galileo Camps in your area: San Francisco, Southern California, and Chicagoland. Sign up for our mailing list to keep up-to-date on our camp happenings and innovation resources. Or, for more information about Galileo camps, contact us here.