What happens when you add the arts to the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math?
You get STEAM, and at Georgia Tech a full head of steam has powered Madison Cario in the nine months since she became director of the institute’s Office of the Arts.
In a “City Lights” interview with Lois Reitzes, Cario explained her role as Tech’s chief advocate for bridging the gap of understanding between two seemingly disparate fields.
A significant part of her job also includes answering a frequently asked question:
Why does a school that cranks out world-class engineers, scientists, mathematicians and even astronauts even need to offer the arts?
“I think it’s essential because it’s about creativity,” Cario said. “It’s about celebrating that moment of inspiration, because I think that’s something we share whether you’re creating a new dance piece or a new app or engineering something.”
The holistic approach Cario has taken involves more than just pulling together nearly 40 arts-related groups on the Tech campus.
She’s Tech’s primary evangelist for drawing out humanistic ideas in the hardest of sciences.
“Engineering is an amazing field, full of creativity and artistic endeavors, but we don’t talk about it like that,” she said. “Maybe it’s just a language difference.”
While Tech’s Office of the Arts is on the vanguard of “STEAM” efforts in higher education, a recent conference at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta addressed similar issues at the elementary school level.
The conference was a joint presentation of The Alliance Theatre and Georgia Wolf Trap, and provided guidance for K-12 school districts. That includes the Atlanta Public Schools, which recently held a town hall meeting on the subject.