James Bates, designer
Wade Lough, Chris Register and Amanda Christensen, faculty advisors
With the federal government-endorsing STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—an emphasis in these fields dominates the spotlight in public education. One large criticism of STEM is its lack of the Arts. Actually, I see STEM as sharing great commonalities with the field of design. My senior project explores the natural links between STEM and design, developing activities for implementation in elementary school classrooms, complementing current curriculum. Each activity reveals the overlap between the technical and visual, showcasing how design processes and terminology directly intertwine with ideas of scientific discovery, technological advancement, engineering innovation, and mathematical formulation. Additionally, the activities promote essential 21st-century skills, such as idea-generation, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and critical analysis; these are all transferable-skills that both STEM and design cultivate. Teaching young children to observe the natural design in STEM preserves visual pursuits and reinforces the ubiquitous nature of design, assisting in empowering the development of analytical and conceptual technical skills, ultimately illustrating the critical importance of design in education.