Science in wood and clay, watercolor and chalk

America's children are behind many of their world peers in math and science, and this lack of performance in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) presents long term challenges to the nation's economic competitiveness, not to mention the well being of these kids. Despite their dour reputation, the sciences offer creative and well paid opportunity.

So how should that challenge be addressed? Perhaps it's time for wood and clay, watercolor and chalk. SEED:

This scenario may sound far-flung, but it’s just what American school kids need, if you ask the scientists, artists, educators, business leaders, and policy makers gathering this week in Washington DC for The Art of Science Learning. The conference, being held today at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, is the first in a series of hands-on workshops that will explore ways to revitalize flagging US performance in science, technology, engineering, and math — also known as the STEM fields. Instead of thinking purely in terms of technological innovations, these experts believe that infusing some art and design into math and science learning can restore curiosity, energy —and ultimately, performance — to STEM in America. As John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, puts it, 'I’ve begun to wonder recently whether STEM needs something to give it some STE(A)M—an A for art between the engineering and the math, to ground the bits and bytes in the physical world before us, to lift them up and make them human.'