An essay on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math).
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“Ask not for whom the bell tolls. The bell tolls for thee.”

John Milton

Like so many great works of literature I’ve read over the years certain words and authors stick with me year after year. Milton, Blake, Hughes, Pound all bounce words and thoughts off my cerebral cortex into the long term memory banks.

Sitting next to design considerations and concepts of requirements gathering is a single Tyger burning bright in the forest of my mind. Music and literature influence us by enabling us to have a cradle of creativity within us. A burning desire for a moment to reach beyond what is there and consider what could be there.

That momentary burst when it is revealed to us that more was always there. We just hadn’t seen more. We saw only what our limits would allow. Bursting past those limits we could see what had been there forever waiting for us like a loyal companion sitting and waiting at the end of every day.

Oh again to sit amongst those who argue the essence of the universe. To see and hear that which isn’t there. To grasp for a moment of reflection the potential within what could be. To innovate in ways that were not possible before.

What is the change then that we must undergo to open this door? How do we join the group that argues the essence of the universe? It just science. It isn’t just math. Those are far to dry to see the edges that are flaking and here the symphony that is there. For years we chased STEM improvements in schools. To create that moment where the universe wasn’t the only view to be seen.

In the end the art is important as well. There is a poetry within innovation that calls to us. It is as if the moment of innovation is a mixture of science, math and art. Technology included in that but it often rides along patiently waiting for a moment.

It took science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) to build the first Macintosh computer in 1983. It took art to destroy the previous conceptions of computers and in placing that Super Bowl Ad in 1984 change for a moment the course of the world.

Apple isn’t the only company do merge STEM into STEAM most companies do now. But Apple’s core is a mix of all four (Math, Science, Technology and Art). Pageantry and majesty rising out of the ashes to proclaim change.

It is art that in the end rings Milton’s bell.

In the end Mr. Frost it isn’t the road heavily traveled nor the road less taken that we seek. It is the road that mixes all four components to produces the STEAM that moves our creative dreams.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.