What do you get when you cross Enterprise and STEM (and stir-in a bit of Art)?

My kids have been coming home buzzing this week with tales of science experiments and engineering challenges. They love anything hands-on, so couple that with meeting some interesting people from the 'real world' and they're all-in.

STEM has undergone massive re-branding since 2017, with a vision of Scotland as a STEM Nation driving forward change in education and training. Our long tradition of innovation and ingenuity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics has to thrive in order that it remains part of our culture and a driving force in our future economic development.

I've always had a personal interest in the STEM subjects, which led to my first graduate role in software development, however I always felt conflicted with my equal (greater?) love of art and music.

Luckily, my creative streak was nurtured through my BSc in 'Technology & Business Studies (TBS)', which seemed to be way ahead of its time back in the 90s. I was able to study computer programming, manufacturing engineering, statistics, business accounts and economics alongside 'TBS' tutorials where we whiled away afternoons role playing negotiations, sketching branding posters, presenting in a TV studio and collaborating on project-based learning. Our course attracted many 'Jack-of-all-trades' types like me and was affectionately referred to as 'TBS: Tea & Biscuits' by jealous peers who studied 'real' courses like Computer Science and Accounting, but without the added fun-factor.

For me, the opportunity to be creative and develop skills, through the enterprising andragogy of the course, fed all my interests but what I took most from it was a huge self-confidence boost. This came from peer camaraderie as we collaborated to find solutions and meet deadlines, 'failing forward' as we learned from mistakes in a safe environment, exploring out-of-the-box approaches to presenting our learning and taking responsibility to negotiate new ways to meet outcomes with tutors. Over the four years, classmates became like family through shared vision, values and aims.

Forget the Java algorithms and statistical formulae (I have), never mind the Harvard referencing scheme, the self-esteem that was nurtured by this enterprising approach to higher education has stuck with me. It's been reignited by my work in enterprise education as I personally and professionally grow through enterprising approaches in the workplace. I also get to see first-hand the same impact mirrored in learners of all ages and stages who benefit from our enterprise activity, which often complements other educational priorities: Learning for Sustainability, Creativity and/or STEM.

So, what do you get when you cross Enterprise and STEM and stir-in a bit of Art (creativity)? A nice self-E-STEAM boost to enjoy with your tea and biscuits.

Do you have similar experience of the impact of enterprise and STEAM?

Have you felt it yourself or seen it in your learners?

We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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