Art Way Alliance was incredibly fortunate to visit the nation's capitol to participate in the STEM Forum with Congresswoman Donna Edwards on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, we were proud to help provide the Art necessary to transform STEM into STEAM during this insightful and engaging event. Girl Scout Troop Members, parents, students, educators and even government officials participated in the forum and discovered how STEAM fits into today's higher education and career fields. Students discussed their STEM and STEAM related projects at school and a panel on Women in STEM exposed the reality of being a minority in the ever growing tech field. We were excited to see that the importance of ART in STEM and pursuing one's passion was a recurring theme throughout the Forum.
During our panel, artist Darren Soto showed how art, when combined with STEM, could create original and interesting characters. The first character the group imagined was a robotic armed Girl Scout from Washington DC who was armed with a flash light and laser guided cookies. The second character was a 70 year old man who had only one leg and used jet propulsion for balance. "I thought it was a good program and atmosphere for students to actually understand STEAM and what it could do for them," Darren said when asked about the program. "It was really interesting."
Shortly afterwards, we further emphasized the connection between STEM and art by revealing how technology originally seen in science fiction and comic books can inspire inventors and become everyday realities. Teresa Jenkins, Director from the Stone Branch School of Art, used Dick Tracy and his wrist watch as an example - but the kids did not know who the character was! With explanation from the adults present, the children were able to draw a connection between Dick Tracy's fictional watch and the current wearable tech from Apple and Samsung.
All in all, it was a great experience to bring our love of art to the US Capitol and show students, parents, and various other stakeholders how comics can be an essential element in making STEM into STEAM. We hope we can visit again!