Is Coding Really a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) topic?
Yes! Computer programming integrates all of the STEAM topics in a way that few other activities can. Let's walk each letter of the STEAM acronym and examine how they relate to coding.
At the core of any good experiment is the scientific method: hypothesis, experiment, observation, repeat.Some experiments take many years and millions of dollars per attempt (think about space exploration!). Code experiments, in contrast, are fast and free to run! If a code beginner wants to test their hypothesis that changing a certain number in the code will make an LED light blink faster, they are keystrokes away from a live result! With instant testing and results, coding is an excellent real-life use of the scientific method.
If technology is an outcome or a useful application of science, then what could be a better example than a customized creation built with code? With electronics like those in Let's Start Coding kits, kids can tinker and experiment to come up with something that is one-of-a-kind, like a flashlight that changes colors or a unique alarm that is triggered by sound. We think of the T in STEAM as a creation, not just a use, of tech. What better way to get kids excited about technology than by empowering them to create their own customized gadgets?
Imagining, planning, and executing a plan to create technology using the scientific method is engineering. If technology is the destination, engineering is a structured process to get there. The process becomes smoother over time and with mistakes, young engineers learn how to better engineer their next project. How can coding play a role in this process? Making fast and free mistakes is paramount to success. When a new experiment is possible instantly on the keyboard or with a small change to an electronic circuit, rapid iterations help hone kids' engineering processes. If kids are using Let's Start Coding kits, they'll see the engineering process in action if they follow along with our more complex, multi-part projects like the 'Jump Man' video game!
Creativity and expression are core to art. While it may take many forms - sculpture, painting, photography, or in this case, electronics and coding - art requires freedom. Coding may seem like a rigidly structured process, but within its straightforward rules, almost anything is possible. Do you want the color of an LED to interact with how close someone is to touching it? Change the pitch of a tone 1000 times per second? Reimagine a classic painting with embedded electronics (stars that actually twinkle in the piece Starry Night)? All of these and more are possible with a little code. Think of code and electronics as paintbrushes- they take some skill to learn, but can be wielded to create whatever kids dream up!
A broad topic, math can mean completely different things in different contexts. The more abstract math and its models become, the harder it can be for kids to understand, much less enjoy. Coding can come into play as a fun and visual way to interact with mathematical models. For example, if the pitch playing on a speaker starts at 1 and doubles every second, how many iterations will it take for pitch to equal 1000? This is an easy experiment to run with a Let's Start Coding kit. Before they know it, kids are learning about variables and exponential growth intuitively, so it will make much more sense the next time the topic arises in a textbook.
Coding with electronics is an excellent S.T.E.A.M. tool, helping with creation, process, and tangible outcomes. In fact, these topics are so integrated that kids will experience all of them within a single coding project!
Let's Start Coding has built programming kits, free software, projects, tutorials, and challenges that guide kids through their first experiences with coding. To learn more about our products, visit our homepage.