STEAM experiences in Italy and the STEAMonEDU project

Adapt skills to the needs of the economy, bring research and business closer together, innovate teaching and training, promote female empowerment in society and in the world of work.

There are many goals that can be achieved thanks to the promotion of disciplines in schools STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), acronym updated with the "A" of Art, therefore STEAM: a simple letter that actually completes and strengthens it, highlighting the need and value of an interdisciplinary training, which allows for the creation of connections between science and other disciplines, transversal skills, innovative solutions, fostering creativity and a critical spirit, improving learning processes and cognitive development.

The recent opinion of the “European Committee of the Regions” indicates in the enhancement of education STEAM one of the elements that can contribute to the development of the economies of the European Union.

The opinion contains 25 recommendations policies and it is interesting that the inclusion of the arts with scientific disciplines is an opportunity in particular for countries such as Italy, which can compete as a protagonist especially in sectors involving the technologies and historical-cultural heritage, for example in the field of valorisation, protection and cultural and tourist use of goods of which we are rich.

We recall that two great protagonists of Italian art, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, were not only painters and sculptors, but inventors, engineers and scientists: their genius and their experience demonstrate that there are no boundaries between science and art.


STEM at the center of the education and research reform project

The Covid-19 emergency has called into question the economic, health, social systems, relations between countries, it has shown us the weak points of globalisation. A revolution that is involving the entire planet and which will have various consequences.

"Innovation" is one of the words most used by Italian politicians and rulers at the moment, as if the pandemic had made the process necessary to relaunch the country and its most creative energies postponeable.

Education and research are the two areas from which to start again, as University Minister Gaetano Manfredi explained in a recent interview: «We need a greater number of graduates in scientific subjects, in STEM areas, where women are still under-represented and it is a big problem for the country and its growth. It is an issue that we are placing at the heart of our investment and reform plan».

The the issue of gender difference in Italy is particularly critical, consider that the differential between male and female employment rates is 67.1% for men and 49.2% for women: data that places us in the last places in Europe. The OECD states that if by 2030 female employment were to reach that of men, the Italian GDP could grow by one percentage point a year.

The challenge of the future is to qualify and direct women's work and skills towards more technological fields, therefore STEM, towards which the economy is moving.


National STEAM education initiatives in schools

The enhancement of STEAM education is one of the elements on which the National Digital School Plan launched by the Italian Government (law 107/2015) is based. It is a guiding document of the Ministry of Education, University and Research which aims to innovate the Italian education system through digitization, highlighting the opportunities it offers in terms of training, skills and employment.

The Plan is organized into 4 fundamental steps – tools, skills, accompaniment, training – to be achieved through a series of objectives and actions divided into specific areas. The "Digital, Entrepreneurship and Work" area aims to promote and bridge the digital divide in terms of skills and employment, promote careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Maths) and enhance the relationship between school and I work. The project STEAM Lab it is part of the PNSD and includes classrooms dedicated to the experimentation of competitive courses in the STEAM field for students of all levels. “Let's walk the path of marvelous mechanisms” it involves primary school children with workshops in which they "design, create and program objects capable of obtaining data from the surrounding reality and processing it into information ready to be analysed". “Leonardo STEAM Lab” is the path for lower secondary school students: after training on the great scientist with a multifaceted genius, with elements of robotics and coding, the boys build - customizing it - a Leonardo machine, documenting the work done. Secondary school students, with "Photographing science" are challenged to study the birth of the Universe using photographic techniques: finally a photographic contest is organized and an exhibition with the best photographs taken.


Other STEAM experiences in Italy

There are several initiatives in Italy that are increasingly aiming to promote the STEAM approach to training.

Among these is the "Liceo STEAM International", an innovative experience in the Italian panorama that aims to train students' skills by adopting "active and experiential teaching", which poses continuous challenges that stimulate their ability to find creative and innovative solutions. To do this, the classic "linear" teaching model - which provides for the teacher in the classroom and the frontal lesson - was revolutionized with a method in which study and experience intersect and are equally central. Therefore ample space for intensive courses on case analysis and advanced applications in various fields, realization of three projects a year aimed at the creation of products related to specific areas: mechanics/engineering; digital; bio-engineering; sustainable services.

"STEM 4 Future" is a project that was created to encourage the knowledge and interest of the new generations for STEM subjects. Supported by Boeing and the Sant'Anna University of Pisa, conceived by ScuolAttiva Onlus, it involves classical and scientific high schools and represents a successful synergy between universities, companies and schools, in which advanced research and secondary education meet to experiment with new forms of teaching.

Another project is "A Steem for Steel", an education initiative based on technology and sustainability, which aims to show high school students - and especially girls - the professional opportunities offered by the world of steel, a sector in which Italy is a leader in the world, highlighting the importance of undertaking a STEEM study path (Science, Technology, Engineering, Economics, Maths). The project is carried out with the support of some of the most important entrepreneurial realities of the Italian steel industry. The first phase, which began in January 2020 with 5 workshops, involved over 1,000 students from 8 high schools in four Italian regions where companies illustrated to young people how a manufacturing company works. Afterwards, the selected students took part in the Innovation Camps, 4 contests in which they developed a social communication campaign focused on the themes of the circular economy, sustainability and innovation, starting from a concrete business problem.

BIZ Factory was also held, the first national final in digital version of business in action, the Junior Achievement Italia entrepreneurship program aimed at high schools: the aim was to develop entrepreneurial skills in students to prepare them for their professional future. The final, BIZ Factory, was held in "videogame mode", entirely in virtual reality and about 11,000 students participated. The title of Best Enterprise JA 2020, at the national final among student-created startups, was won for the project APS 2.0, an intelligent structure capable of protecting crops during adverse weather conditions. A smart and sustainable solution.



The STEAMonEdu European project has the objective of proposing policies at all levels of government for implement the STEAM approach in schools, making a reference platform available to institutions complete for the definition of the required professional profiles and of the didactic planning.

The project envisages the establishment and animation of a European community of STE(A)M educators who will benefit from: free training courses to implement their skills; a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) for the development of skills also through the study of best practices of the various countries involved; planning and testing of 50 educational scenarios for the promotion of STE(A)M.

Stati Generali dell'Innovazione is the Italian partner of the project and responsible for its implementation in Italy: SGI is a point of reference for the promotion and coordination of policies and programs for innovation, also through synergies with other associations, representatives of civil society, institutions.

To date, SGI has collected for STEAMonEDU various best practices activated by Italian high schools, among these we mention the first proposals arrived: the IC "Capozzi-Galilei" of Valenzano (Bari) with "Gamification during Covid-19 lockdown", "Back to school: new approach to environmental education”, “One day at the market” and “Inside matter”; IC "Taverna" of Montalto Uffugo (Cosenza) with "A message from the past", "Goodnews not FakeNews", "Problem solving Olympics ... No problem!", "March of STEAM"; the Artistic High School of Cagliari "Foiso Fois" with three STE(A)M good practices within the Hostel and Officine DigitalArch project.

But we are only at the beginning of a project which will certainly make a great contribution of ideas and experiences to the promotion of STEAM subjects in Italy and in Europe.













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