Infusing Creativity into STEM at All Ages

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash

How do we use more creative thinking in STEM careers?

Earlier this week, we posted an article on AWSN Facebook and Twitter about how infusing art and design into math and science learning might just be the key to revitalizing student interest in STEM.


This is the focus of many of AWSN’s member programs who provide youth with hands‑on learning experiences that foster creativity and innovation in STEM:


  • Science Expo Alberta empowers youth with hands-on STEM opportunities through conferences, mentorship and outreach programs.
  • MindFuel fosters curiosity, critical thinking and imagination through captivating science programs focused on real-world science and technology.
  • BrainSTEM Alliance works with organizations and institutions to deliver interactive programming in the areas of STEM, leadership and entrepreneurship.
  • Praxis Science Outreach creates positive experiential science learning through community events, resource kits, summer camps, conferences and more.
  • FIRST Robotics Western Canada and The Intimitrons from Area 51 tap into student teamwork and innovation through exciting and engaging robotics competitions.
  • STEM Learning Lab combines art, creativity and innovation with STEM through high‑quality hands-on learning experiences.
  • Cybermentor motivates girls to excel in science and math through inspiring online mentoring programs.
  • Operation Minerva inspires Grade 8 and 9 girls with real workplace experiences with female scientists and engineers.
  • Explore-IT engages Grade 9 girls in interactive workshops that explore creativity and self-expression within the Information, Communications & Technology (ICT) sector.
  • Power to Choose empowers Aboriginal Youth to pursue careers in STEM through hands‑on, minds-on scientific activities.
  • WISET creates science experiences for young women through conferences, classroom visits, evening and weekend sessions and mentorship programs.


But how do we sustain the connection between creativity and STEM as adults, once we have completed our education and are out in the workplace?


STEM careers are traditionally thought of as left-brained (logical, analytical and objective) rather than right-brained (intuitive, thoughtful and creative) endeavors. However, many of us have a desire to engage both analytical and creative thinking in our day-to-day work. In fact, I have spoken to many STEM professionals who are either dissatisfied in their careers or have left STEM altogether due to a desire to use more right-brained thinking on a daily basis.


The good news is, despite the traditional view that STEM fields are purely analytical, there might actually be more need for creativity in STEM than initially meets the eye.


1. Innovation – STEM fields are based on challenging the status quo to drive new discoveries and technological advancements. This type of continuous innovation relies on creative STEM thinkers who are able to imagine new futures and then set out to make those futures a reality.


2. Leadership – Unlike the logical, linear process of statistically analyzing and interpreting scientific results, leadership is messy. People are complicated and unpredictable and effective leadership requires leaning into the uncertainty and trusting that the right answers will emerge. This is not unlike creating a painting in which the artist must trust the creative process for the beauty of the painting to emerge.


3. Communication – Sharing STEM ideas and results, either through written reports or spoken presentations, requires creating visual and written materials that not only communicate the desired information to your audience but also inspire your audience in your call to action. This requires engaging in the creative process to develop communication materials that are both novel and engaging. (As an aside, Dan Roam’s book “The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures” is a great resource for developing your visual and creative communication skills).


By focusing more on these and other creative aspects of STEM, we can tap into both our analytical and creative thinking processes and revitalize STEM careers as the rich, varied and exciting endeavors that they are.


How do you infuse creativity in your STEM career? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!


Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash