Amongst parents’ Common Core Facebook rants are ever-climbing college tuition rates and presidential candidate platforms on student loan reform. When it comes to education today, there’s only one topic that makes educators, students, and administrators light up: STEAM.
What is STEAM?
Not to be confused with the water vapor variety, STEAM is a newly defined approach to teaching and the learning process. In making connections across Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics, the STEAM model presents a hands-on approach to problem-solving, collaboration, critical thinking, and experimentation.
Although the definition is new, the approach is not. Take this example from STEAM advocate Meghan Reilly Michaud in her 2014 article, “STEAM: Adding art to STEM education”, for District Administration.
“In mathematics, for example, students learn the geometric transformation of dilation. In an introductory visual arts course, students learn perspective. In science, students study the effect of light on pupil response in the eye. And in a history class, the way Renaissance artists viewed the world is examined.
It may not be obvious, but all these topics relate to a main idea of an item changing scale with proportion to the original dimensions, and the effect this idea has on different facets of our world. In establishing a connection between these ideas, the arts not only educate, but also engage students in their learning. Even without explicitly designing new curriculum, many teachers already use STEAM principles in their teaching.“
Why does STEAM matter?
While Common Core continues to be highly debated among parents, teachers, and politicians alike, messages from the White House to Sesame Street indicate that STEAM is here to stick around for the future of American education. And everyone seems to be on board.
The National Science Foundation is funding STEAM programs and workshops, the National Endowment for the Arts is “pushing for Artscience initiatives — intersecting art, science, and technology”, and the benefits are already documented within K-12 education, amongst students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and at the college level.
In an article for Edutopia, John Maeda, the President of the Rhode Island School of Design – the school at the front of the fight to keep the A in STEAM – had this to say about STEAM’s future on a global scale.
With global competition rising, America is at a critical juncture in defining its economic future. I believe that art and design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century in the same way that science and technology did in the last century, and the STEAM movement is an opportunity for America to sustain its role as innovator of the world.
What do laser machines have to do with STEAM?
An essential part of how innovation arises from STEAM-based projects is the process of “making”. Making is simply hands-on creation – building a scale model or prototype, for instance – and much of it happens in “makerspaces” or “Fab Labs” (short for fabrication). Makerspaces are today’s new technology workshops guided by STEAM principles. In nearly every makerspace, you’re bound to find at least a 3D printer and vinyl cutter, maybe some Arduino or Little Bits kits, and – if you’re lucky – the ultimate STEAM tool: a laser machine.
With the ability to cut or engrave nearly any material, laser machines are truly the greatest STEAM tool on the market. But don’t take just our word for it. In an article for MakeZine.com, California high school math teacher and “Maker Educator” Casey Shea wrote, “If money were no object, the laser cutter would be my No. 1 tool, as it is perhaps the most versatile tool that I have ever used.”
In an article from 2009, by Mike Dean for SouthEast Education Network, laser machines got rave reviews from both administrators and students. Now you know it has to be good if both teenagers and their authority figures can agree on it.
Dark Steel Robotics, a student robotics team at the Academy of Engineering and Design Technology, found their laser machine to be crucial for their work – using it to create prototypes, cut out “numerous complex components”, and add logos to their robots.
Club president Bryan Uber told Dean, “We use the system for a variety of applications — the machine is necessary for so many of the projects we do.” Regarding placing first in the Boston University Design Challenge, Uber said, “The laser engraver was an invaluable tool during this project.”
Administrators from the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center in Hancock County, West Virginia also had glowing remarks about their laser machine. Instructor of building construction Steve Shannon told Dean the following.
“The students are all very eager to learn to use the laser. Not only are they intrigued by how it works, but they also realize the many opportunities that a laser machine opens for them out in the world. Some of them see it and immediately think of how to start a small business using it, while some see it as a useful tool for existing enterprises.”
George Danford, director of the Career Center, told Dean:
“The number of things we could find to use this machine for are countless!
There isn’t a program offered today which hasn’t been changed with the incorporation of technology. This is why we selected a laser engraving system, and it has definitely improved our curriculum.”
Alright, I’m convinced. How can I get a laser machine?
Whether you’re looking to add a laser machine to your school or want to start a community makerspace, the first step of purchasing a laser machine is choosing the right one. We offer five models at AP Lazer, which you can easily compare using this handy matrix.
While the upfront costs of purchasing a laser machine can be difficult to navigate on a school budget, know that with this technology, you get what you pay for, and AP Lazer offers the best technology on the market.
Take for instance young entrepreneur Nurul Syazninabila Mohd Ghazali (aka Nabila). According to Cuts Studio: Laser cutting made cool by Lydia Koh, when Nabila first started her laser cutting and woodworking business, she went with a cheaper machine. It ended up breaking. In six months. Don’t make the same mistake as Nabila and invest in an AP Lazer machine from the start.
With STEAM momentum only continuing to build, some teachers are finding success in grant writing to fund their Fab Labs. And if that doesn’t work, take a page from Shea’s book and show your school how much money they could save by having a laser machine. From no longer needing to outsource campus signage, to easily customizing whiteboards for specific lessons, your school will only find more and more ways for your AP Lazer machine to save money.
Why choose an AP Lazer machine?
As a result of revolutionary engineering by founder Tong Li, AP Lazer machines offer exceptional performance, stability, and efficiency that you won’t find elsewhere. Our technology lasts longer and cuts two times faster than competitors. Our unprecedented open architecture design allows you to engrave items of any size. Look here to see what other features make the AP Lazer difference.
Not only are our machines outstanding, but we also offer the best in customer service. Between on-site training, video tutorials, AP Lazer University, and 24/7 phone tech support, we’ll answer all questions and solve any problems.
Oh, and did we mention, educators get a 10% discount with AP Lazer?
So what are you waiting for?! Contact us today to find out how you can get your hands on an AP Lazer machine.
Additional Links and Resources:
STEM to STEAM
Engaging Students in the STEM Classroom Through “Making”
Pivot Point: At the Crossroads of STEM, STEAM and Arts Integration
STEAM Funding Endorsed BY NEA
STEAM Ahead: Merging Arts and Science Education
Gaining STEAM: Teaching Science Through Art