August 13, 2018

Full STEAM Ahead

by Jim H. Smith


While the STEM acronym (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) has been in use for several decades, STEAM is a way of integrating the arts with STEM to encourage student inquiry, critical thinking and dialogue.

“STEAM places a high value on creativity and innovation,” said Cindy Maguire, Ph.D., associate professor of arts and design education, acting associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and director of Adelphi’s undergraduate art and design education program. “It’s about how artists and designers incorporate technology, engineering and science into their art making. We invent to learn rather than learn to invent.

“In a rapidly changing world,” she continued, “it is important that we educate well-rounded global citizens who have the imagination and skills to conquer new challenges, such as climate change and poverty. There are kids in elementary school today who will have jobs that haven’t even been imagined yet. STEAM helps to prepare them for those jobs.”

In 2014, Dr. Maguire began to collaborate with three Adelphi science educators. Two years ago, they launched the STEAM Consortium, an effort to promote the infusion of STEAM into course content across the Adelphi curriculum.

A result is the University’s STEAMLab, a community makerspace equipped with a range of materials—from 3-D printers, laptop computers, microprocessors and sensors to sewing machines, scissors, paint and cardboard—where the Adelphi community can explore and invent using a variety of tools and materials.

“The STEAM Consortium aims to break down traditional academic silos and engender a broader spirit of creativity,” said Clinical Associate Professor Mary Jean McCarthy, one of Dr. Maguire’s collaborators.

The four professors have reached out to their colleagues across a wide range of disciplines to promote STEAM at Adelphi, and now professors on both sides of the STEAM equation are incorporating STEAM into their classrooms.

Harnessing the Power of STEAM

Here’s how three Adelphi professors are jumping into STEAM

Louise Geddes, Ph.D., assistant professor of English and a Shakespeare scholar, collaborated with Valerie Fazel, Ph.D., an Arizona State University professor, on a study of online Shakespeare fan fiction published in the journal Shakespeare. The two professors are currently co-editing a book that will explore the wide range of digital platforms a vast, variegated audience of Shakespeare aficionados are using to reinterpret the Bard’s words.

John Drew, assistant professor of communications, acquired a small, camera-equipped drone so that students can partner with Operation Splash, a nonprofit dedicated to cleaning up Long Island’s waterways, to use the device to produce a video. He envisions utilizing the drone in future classes to produce documentaries and videos about issues like drought and meteorological devastation.

Lee Stemkoski, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics and computer science, developed a video game design minor that addressed both sides of the STEAM equation: the arts-related visual and narrative aspects of games’ stories and the technical components that bring those stories to life.


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About Adelphi: A modern metropolitan university with a personalized approach to higher learning

Adelphi University, New York, is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes with world-class faculty, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support academic and career success. Adelphi offers exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training, with particular strength in our Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness.

Recognized as a Best College by U.S. News & World Report, Adelphi is Long Island’s oldest private coeducational university. It serves almost 8,000 students at its beautiful main campus in Garden City, New York—just 23 miles from New York City’s cultural and internship opportunities—and at dynamic learning hubs in Manhattan, the Hudson Valley and Suffolk County, as well as online. 

More than 116,000 Adelphi graduates have gained the skills to thrive professionally as active, engaged citizens, making their mark on the University, their communities and the world.

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