STEAM-Design Education: Design is the Key to 21st Century Learning in Maryland’s Public Schools

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STEAM-design education is central to 21st century education in Maryland’s Public Schools
STEAM-design education is central to 21st century education in Maryland’s Public Schools

Just as steam was the driving force behind the innovations of the industrial age, STEAM-Design education (STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Design, and Math) is the driving force behind the current innovations in public education. Two federal laws, the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2016 and the STEM Education Act of 2015, have paved the way for supporting and growing local education innovations, including evidence-based and place-based education interventions developed by local design leaders and educators.

A design education curriculum project currently being used in all 3rd grade public school classrooms in Baltimore City
A design education curriculum project currently being used in all 3rd grade public school classrooms in Baltimore City

On the evening of July 18th, 2017, the STEAM-Design Education Roundtable was convened in Baltimore at The Center for Social Design-Maryland Institute College of Art and Design to discuss the importance of design education, and how crucial it is in making Maryland’s public school education competitive in the 21st Century.

The motivation for this roundtable came from the legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2017 legislative session establishing the Maryland Education Development Collaborative. This Collaborative is a new state-funded entity to promote 21st-century learning and socioeconomic diversity in Maryland’s Public Schools and will establish an Advisory Council to provide advice on matters relating to 21st-century learning, data collection, and data sharing about public education.

Eight design thought leaders participated in the roundtable, representing a broad spectrum of design educators and design practitioners. The discussion was led by Stephanie F. Yoffee, founder of MarylandByDesign, a design policy based working group, and included a MICA faculty member, a retired Industrial Designer, a current graduate student from the Johns Hopkins-MICA/D Design Leadership Master’s Degree Program, a recent Master’s Degree recipient of MICA/D’s Curatorship Program, a leader of a local arts education non-profit organization, a recent Master’s Degree recipient from Johns Hopkins School of Education, and a recent Bachelor’s Degree recipient from MICA/D.

This team of eight spent the evening discussing how STEAM-design education is central to 21st-century education in Maryland’s Public Schools. The roundtable covered design from A to Z, and how design education is critical to transforming STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) into STEAM (adding the “A” for Art and Design) as the framework for establishing a well-balanced education for public school students in Maryland.

STEAM-design education is also the basis for the current bill being worked on in Congress (H.R. 3344), which will amend the STEM Education Act of 2015 to require the National Science Foundation to promote the integration of art and design into STEM education, and thus provide all public schools students a broader-based education.
The roundtable was an opportunity to present case studies highlighting how design is infused into every aspect of our natural and built environment. This ranges from everyday objects we use, to how we synthesize new knowledge to innovate, and even to how we can make our homes, offices and schools better places to live, work and play. An emphasis on design policy, and fusing design into public policies, is essential for carrying out how design is defined, understood and implemented in grade K-12 public education.
The recent gathering of experts at the roundtable is the first in a series of planning meetings to implement the law behind the Maryland Education Development Collaborative, which will go into effect on October 1, 2017. To find out more and become involved in the planning meetings, visit the MarylandByDesign website.

Stephanie F. Yoffee has had a career as a Graphic Designer and Public Servant, with 28 years of experience in both fields combined. She is a graduate of The Rhode Island School of Design, received her MBA from The George Washington University, and was a Fulbright-Schuman Fellowship nominee. She is a native of Maryland.
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Stephanie F. Yoffee has had a career as a Graphic Designer and Public Servant, with 28 years of experience in both fields combined. She is a graduate of The Rhode Island School of Design, received her MBA from The George Washington University, and was a Fulbright-Schuman Fellowship nominee. She is a native of Maryland.