The Art of STEAM

Rhode Island School of Design’s new STEAM map
connects educators across the globe and provides
support for STEAM teachers.

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

innOVATION STEAM Grant Awards Program Best Practices High Quality STEAM Education:

■  Incorporates the expertise of both STEM and arts educators to create an authentic interdisciplinary experience for students: co-teaching model / co-planning is strong & replicable;

■  Is thoroughly planned, including the identification of state or national standards in each subject area, balancing standards offered from each subject equally;

■  Borrows from scientific method, the iterative artistic and creative processes, and artistic production and exhibition as critical milestones in the experience;

■  Has the buy-in of school administrators;

■  Leverages local artists, artisans, scientists, area nonprofits and other experts, as appropriate;

■  Is well-documented through photography, lesson plans and other means, as a method of advocacy and to ensure partnership longevity for STEAM as a new instructional method;

■  Has a tangible outcome, such as an artistic product, scientific experiment, architectural or design specs or other artifacts;

■  Allows students to direct their own learning through experimentation, positioning teachers as guides and personalizing learning;

■  Leverages real-world connections wherever possible and highlights the nexus of career and technical education and the arts;

■  Includes built-in, tailored assessments that help students and teachers understand what students have learned and what they have not;

■  Includes solid, clear and well-constructed rubrics that integrate the arts.

Source: Ovation, America's only arts network, launched the innOVATION Grant STEAM Awards in 2013 in partnership with the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and Americans for the Arts. After reviewing the submissions from all of the grant applicants, the grant review panel created this Best Practices One-Sheet by identifying elements from the top applications which they believe are present in high quality STEAM education.

Step through the doors of a STEAM classroom and you might find kids building their own mini-rollercoaster, creating a DIY instrument, or engaging in any number of creative hands-on experiments.

STEAM builds on the success of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) movement, which emphasizes open-ended, inquiry-based lessons, and adds in a powerful catalyst of art to the mix (STEM + Art = STEAM).

STEAM reflects the ways that STEM and the arts go hand in hand in the real world, from a painter using the vanishing point theorem to an architect designing a library that’s both beautiful and sturdy enough to withstand the weight of thousands of books.

And teachers find that the arts provide a useful jumping off point to help kids understand tricky STEM concepts—and vice versa—as students learn fractions through music or study symmetry by drawing tessellations.

In that way, integrating the arts in STEM classes can help students gain a deeper understanding of key concepts and encourage innovation and creativity—two essential qualities for college- and career-readiness in the 21st century.

As part of its effort to champion this movement, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) created a free resource for teachers: the STEAM Map, an innovative mapping tool that allows you to connect with fellow educators and STEAM supporters in your district, state and across the globe! In addition to being a tool for educators, the map captures STEAM activity in research, industry and policy.

By helping educators create meaningful connections locally and globally RISD hopes to foster a conversation on the best practices of STEAM education and facilitate lesson sharing. The STEAM Map provides an easy way for teachers to see what fellow educators are doing, share their own creative ideas (and classroom success stories!), and discover opportunities for collaboration. 

Join the STEAM network to share your tips and find out what your fellow educators are doing in their classrooms!

Put yourself on the map at

Learn more about the Rhode Island School of Design at

Learn more about STEM to STEAM:

Click Here to Subscribe to Instructor Magazine

  • Subjects:
    Science, Performing Arts, Arts and Creativity, Science Experiments and Projects, Scientific Method and Process, Visual Arts, Educational Standards

Scholastic Teacher Magazine

Six issues per year filled with practical, fun, teacher-tested ideas for your classroom. Keep up with classroom trends, get expert teaching tips, and find dozens of resources in every issue.