Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Disney Puts the A in STEAM #EdChat

I spent a week at Disney World with my family and it was a blast. All of the annoying things about large parks during high traffic times hold true, but it all washes away when you see the smile on your little guy's face when he meets a favorite character.

A photo posted by Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) on

These two evil step-sisters where so kind to Leo. They were just finishing up a long shift and they really engaged with Leo and made him feel like the only Prince in the Kingdom. It was almost 90 degrees out and we were all tired, but it melted away with that smile.

The more I walked around Disney, I tried to look past the costumes, the lines, the heat, and I tried to see what really made this place tick. The logistics of running a park like this have to be a nightmare, but everything seems to run and everyone is having a good time. They clearly have a pretty good idea of what they are doing because the park is filled and I think they make a little money on it. After a couple of days of enjoying the various parks and watching my son become a Jedi,

A photo posted by Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) on

I realized that Disney is an amazing example of why you need the "A" (Arts) in STEM.

The "Imagineers" make Disney possible. They are the ones that are designing the rides, the park structure, and all of the bells and whistles that make things work on a daily basis. They make the park run. However, they are the guts of the park. You need much more than guts to make something successful. That is where the Arts come in. The costumes, the art work, the characterization, the overall goofiness help create the overall experience. You cannot have Disney without one or the other.

This translates beyond Disney though. As we look at more and more companies enter the technology market, there is a premium on how things work, but also on how thing look. Apple has always prided itself on how things look and work. For me, I need a product to work well, but I also want it to look good when I use it. These details fall to the creative minds that are sometimes marginalized in education. It's sad because the students involved in the arts are some of the most brilliant students we have and we tell them their passion is not "practical" or we ask them how they will make money doing this for a living.

Now, more than ever, we need to encourage our students to explore the creative arts and become experts in those fields. Those skills are going to be crucial as new things are created. Jobs will appear for things that do not even exist. We need to remember that the Arts are very important and that we cannot push them to the side because they are not going to be tested. Disney is a great model of fusing Arts with the STEM field. STEAM is important in schools and our future and Disney shows exactly how awesome it can be.

A photo posted by Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) on

The skills that are required to program/code all of the robots for this and other rides must be intense. Then, artists need to dress it up to fit the ride. That is no easy feat. STEAM in action.

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