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STEAM by Design 

Linda Keane, AIA, Professor of Architecture and Environmental Design, The School of 
the Art Institute of Chicago; Co-Director ELearning Designopedia, USA 

Mark Keane, Professor of Architecture. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA 


We live in a designed world. STEAM by Design presents a 
transdisciplinary approach to learning that challenges young 
minds with the task of making a better world. Learning 
today, like life, is dynamic, connected and engaging. STEAM 
(Science, Technology, Environment, Engineering, Art, and 
Math) teaching and learning integrates information in 
place-based projects accessing everyday technology of 
virtual field trips, digital interactives, apps, and 
contemporary art, science and design practices. STEAM by 
Design develops designing minds. Designing minds work 
across STEAM fields developing social, cultural, 
technological, environmental and economical responses to 
existing and future conditions. Design adds Art and the 
environment to the STEM equation to contribute site 
specific, culturally connected, contributions to creative 
economies. Documented case studies at the elementary, 
middle and high school level demonstrate the ease of 
delivering STEAM by Design opportunities and reveal the 
inherent creativity of students if encouraged. Design 
cultivates new knowledge, skills and values derived from 
becoming aware, developing understanding, and testing 
ideas through making. Designing place-based projects, K- 
16 students acquire STEAM aptitude and better understand 
the use of STEM fields in solving contemporary problems. 
Access to everyday technologies cultivate ways to create, 

communicate and collaborate. STEAM by Design is 
supported by the ELearning Designopedia,, aligned 
with newly released NEXT Generation Science Standards, 
North American Association for Environmental Education 
Standards and Art and Design Standards. STEAM by Design 
positions designing as world pedagogy that connects 
students as citizen activists in the communities in which 
they live and learn. 

Key words 

design; STEAM; creativity; integrated learning; innovation; 

STEAM by Design 

The Steam by Design movement mixes art, design and the 
environment across traditional K-12 subjects (souse & 
Pilecki, 2013) and intertwines the way artists, designers, 
and scientists research and integrate complex sets of 
information. At Harvard's Artscience Lab, MIT's Center for 
Arts, Science, and Technology (CAST), and at Ask Nature, 
an Internet-based biomimicry project that brings 
knowledge of the natural world to bear on engineering and 
design problems, missions turn on the successful 
integration of the arts and sciences. Refreshing the arts 
integration efforts of the 60's, with 
the inclusion of both environmental 
concerns and design practices, 
today's integration impacts 
contemporary K-12 STEM education 

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Figure 1. STEAM by Design Based Learning Integrating Across Subjects. 

Integrating design and technology 
tools into science education naturally 
offers students dynamic learning 
opportunities. Everyday apps and 
mobile digital platforms make 
moving between technology, 
physical making, writing and 
reflecting fun. The transdisciplinary 
process utilizing existing and new 
tools represents real world practices 
(Standford, 2014). STEAM by Design 
mixes activities integral to 
envisioning the unknown with the 
known, utilizes new technologies, 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 




STEAM by Design 

assesses data and probability, and engineers iterative 
solutions for testing and evaluation. Making connections 
with science, technology, engineering, environment, art, 
and math, STEAM by Design encourages student-initiated 
and selected projects. As a holistic approach, STEAM by 
Design connects learning about the natural with the 
constructed world, the social with the cultural, and the 
economical with the environmental (DeKay, 2011). STEAM 
teaching now aligns with North American Association for 
Environmental Education Standards (2006), new National 
Art Standards (2014) and NEXT Generation Science 
Standards (2014). 

Design and science make use of each other's 
methodologies. The interplay between the design body of 
knowledge and the science body of knowledge magnifies 
results when both inform investigation and propositioning. 
The processes intertwine when interrelationships and 
connections between fields influence, disrupt, and inform 
life systems. While both science and design focus on the 
convergent study of particulars, they both are also 
informed by the divergent study of relationships across 
expanded fields. This dynamic flow opens linear thinking to 
unexpected innovations. Design offers an ever-evolving set 
of activities that challenge K-12 students to integrate what 
they are learning in disciplinary classes into real world 
transdisciplinary applications. STEAM by Design equips 
students with the skills to become active participants and 
contributors (rather than purely consumers and spectators) 
to discussions, debates, and designs for improving living. 
STEAM by Design assists schools and students in clarifying 
goals for the future and in developing responsive 
institutional and personal missions. 

Design-based learning structures a creative, value-driven 
edge to STEM education aimed at connecting imaginations 
with a real purpose — finding purpose and fulfilling 
potential in improving the world. STEAM builds on the 
inclusion of design by adding the places of the 
environment, built and natural, to the acronym. STEAM by 
Design, as a standards-aligned and e-Learning-supported 
pedagogy, introduces multifaceted design-based 
opportunities that transform disciplinary-based instruction 
in separate classrooms into transdisciplinary practices. DBL 
shifts the primary model of learning about STEM subjects, 
creating a synthesis that captures students' interests and 
develops their abilities to contribute purposefully. If the 
purpose of life is indeed to find and make a life of 
purpose, individuals are responsible for using learning in 
newly relevant ways to improve their communities. 

Learning by design then becomes the vehicle for improving 
the human condition. 

Researchers at Stanford's School of Education reports that 
design-based learning widens possibilities for learning 
science. Developing and delivering design-based activities 
can increase motivation for working and make students 
feel proud of their achievements. It can build confidence in 
students as lifelong thinkers, designers, and doers (Barron 
et al. 1998). It cultivates a dynamic and interactive learning 
environment encouraging active engagement in the 
construction of knowledge, in contrast to directed learning 
about science from textbooks and lectures (Doppelt et al. 
2008). Overall, research supports encouraging evidence 
that such inquiry-based learning increases students' 
science content knowledge and engagement. Working on 
design challenges, students transfer knowledge into 
multiple tasks, learn through collaboration and doing, and 
develop positive attitudes towards science 
(Doppelt et al. 2008, Fortus et al. 2004, 
Fortus et al. 2005, Puntambekar & 

Kolodner 2005, Mamlok et al. 2001). 

STEAM and Environmental Education 

The environment, both built and natural, 
connects the world at large with the world 
of imagination. As governments globally 
rethink relationships between the built and 
natural worlds in response to climate 
change and a globalizing economy, 
educational leaders must recognize 
environmental education as a priority 
across the curriculum. With David Orr, they 
must understand that "All education is 
environmental education." As jobs 
increasingly rely on technology and 
integrated STEM skills, all students need 

Figure 2-3. NEEF Stem & Our Planet and Top 10 Apps for taking 
Learning Outdoors Posters. 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 

STEAM by Design 

opportunities to develop mathematical, scientific and 
creative capacities. 

Environmental education, approached from the perspective 
of Buckminster Fuller's Design Science site, bridges the 
study of the built and natural environments with 
engineering practices. For Fuller, Design Science "the 
effective application of the principles of science to the 
conscious design of our total environment in order to help 
make the Earth's finite resources meet the needs of all of 
humanity without disrupting the ecological processes of 
the planet." ( 
environmental-design-science-primerO This approach 
moves traditional engineering to a more relational field that 
dynamically responds to change. Design science is a 
problem-solving approach that entails a rigorous, 
systematic study of the deliberate ordering of the 
components in our universe (Buckminster Fuller Institute, 
2015). With North American Association for Environmental 
Education Standards established in 2006, schools can align 
their teaching across several subjects with objectives that 
activate design thinking. For example, the NAAEE standards 
require learners "to design environmental investigations to 
answer particular questions — often their own questions." 

In the process, students engage in design-based processes, 
including the selection of modes of inquiry appropriate to 
their questions and appropriate systems of measurement 
and observation. Like engineers, they evaluate data and 
evidence for accuracy and relevance, and they present data 
in a variety of formats including charts, tables, graphs, 
maps, and flow charts. 

All students, in every subject, need to be asking questions 
and interpreting information. Learning about the earth, 
physical and life science, are sets of Science Standards. 
Studying humans and their societies is cultural, 
ethnographic and anthropological research of the 
humanities. The third category of standards aligns with 
designers conducting site analysis and environmental 
research as well as the development of ethical 
responsibility. Standard IV, Personal and Civic Responsibility 
make the same contribution to character development that 
design does. In keeping with the notion that all education 
is environmental education, the National Environmental 
Education standards include guidelines for the study of 
Earth as a physical system and as a living environment. 
Standards addressing the study of the environment and 
society, including skills for analyzing environmental issues, 
developing citizenship, and personal and civic responsibility 
align with the work of designers conducting site analysis 
and environmental research as well as the development of 
ethical responsibility. 

Standards guiding instruction in personal and civic 
responsibility make a contribution to character 
development that is similar to the contribution made by 
the design field, where individuals are required to use their 
knowledge and expertise in responsible ways. We want 
[students] to be able to pursue independent inquiry in 
whatever subject, in whatever discipline, whether it's in 
school or not. We want to get them excited about learning. 
Teacher (Morgan, et. al, 2007, p.ii). It is a bit like your 
lesson where you teach yourself by doing things.... It's a bit 
like teaching yourself to work individually. Student (Morgan, 
et, al., 2007, p. ii). 

I. Questioning Analysis and Interpretation Skills 

II. 2.1 The Earth As a Physical System 

2.2 The Earth As a Living Environment 

2.3 Humans and Their Societies 

2.4 Environment and Society 

III. 3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental 

3.2 Decision-making and Citizenship Skills 
IV Personal and Civic Responsibility 

STEAM and Arts and Science Integration 

Providing a philosophical foundation for learning that is life 
long, arts education provides students opportunities to 
develop unique ways of knowing and interpreting the 
world. New National Core Arts Education Standards 
promote achievement in the arts through guidelines that 
emphasize creating, responding, and connecting (NAEA, 
2014), activities that designers do daily. The arts, like 
design, remain a medium for ideation, or the 
conceptualization, study, and exchange of ideas. The arts 
are a collection of skills and thought processes that 
transcend all areas of human thought (Sousa & Polecki, 
2013, p. 17) including design and science. Elliot Eisner's 
(2002) classic 'Ten Lessons the Arts Teach' echo STEM 
competencies and design aptitudes: 

• Perception of relationships (identifying patterns) 

• Attention to nuance (looking closely) 

• Perspective of multiple solutions and multiple answers 
(iterative process) 

• Ability to shift goals (resiliency) 

• Permission to make decisions in the absence of rules 

• Use of imagination as source for content (innovation) 

• Acceptance of operating within restraints (controlled 

• Ability to see the world from a visual perspective 

Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 




STEAM by Design 

Figure 5. The iterative 
design process, the 
evolution, conceptualization, 
and testing of ideas reflect 
engineering practices 
(Design Process,, 
2012 ). 

investEgare experiment, explore realize 

"The value of art and design to innovation is 
clear: Artists and designers humanize 
technology, making it understandable and 
capable of bringing about societal change. 
The tools and methods of a studio-based 
education offer new models for creative 
problem solving, flexible thinking and risk¬ 
taking needed in today's complex and 
dynamic world." (RISD Stem to STEAM 2012). 

Arts-based learning has emerged as an 
experiential and interdisciplinary approach to 
STEM education that is increasingly seen to 
offer a distinctive new set of tools to advance 
creativity and engagement among STEM 
learners (Seifter, 2014). 


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STEAM and NEXT Generation Science 

STEAM by Design gains further momentum as 
new states adopt NEXT Generation Science 
Standards (NGSS). Completed in 2013, the NGSS 
include engineering design in the K-12 science 
curriculum, significantly shifting science instruction toward 
alignment with design teaching and learning. The new 
Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science (ETS) 
standards emerge from the belief that students should not 
only learn how scientific knowledge is developed and 
acquired, but they must also learn how science is utilized, 
"in particular through the engineering design process." 
(Henning, 2015) While science investigates that which is, 
design explores that which could be. This alignment opens 
the classroom to design- based learning. 

NGSS Crosscutting concepts, one of three dimensions of 
the NGSS, facilitate interdisciplinary connections and 
provide students intellectual tools that enrich opportunities 
for introspection, interaction, and disruptive innovation. 

As overarching scientific themes that emerge across all 



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Figure 6. STEAM by Design aligns with NGSS Cross 
Cutting Concepts; 2015. 

scientific disciplines, the crosscutting concepts also bring to 
light the knowledge, language, and skills that are shared by 
the arts and sciences, suggesting new opportunities for 
promoting innovative thinking through trans-disciplinary 
learning and arts/science integration. (Figure 6) 

• Patterns: nature patterns to urban patterns 

• Cause and effect 

• Scale, proportion, and quantity 

• Systems and systems models 

• Energy and matter 

• Structure and function 

• Stability and change 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 

STEAM by Design 

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Figure 7. NGSS standards for 3-5 ( 2015). 

In fact, science education has been facilitating reform for 
decades. Science for All Americans Benchmarks, AAAS, 
(1989); a site unifying principles in National Science 
Education Standards (1996) and NGSS 'cross-cutting 
concepts' in National Science Teacher's Association's 
Science Anchors (2010) engage design with engineering's 
iterative testing and discovery of how the world works. 
Today, NGSS Crosscutting Concepts promote the 
interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary development of core 
concepts as students look for systemic patterns, cause and 
effect, as well as stability and change in the dynamic 
ecosystem that is our world (NGSS Framework, 2012). The 
NGSS now combines the disciplinary core ideas in physical, 
life, and earth and space science with scientific and 
engineering practices, embedding design concepts, 
architecture (built environment) and environmental 
education in K-12 science instruction. 

Education standards are changing. Concurrent ideas about 
humanizing the ubiquitous use of technology, response to 
cultural, environmental and economic change, and the 
creation of new spaces, systems, and environments in 
preparation for a better future are objectives of STEAM by 
Design as promoted by the e-learning Designopedia, The following four examples of documented 

Figure 8. Prototypical Asphalt Playground for Letting 
Off Steam instead of Creative, Nature and Active Play. 

workshops- elementary, middle school and high school 
provide case studies researching STEAM by Design 
teaching and learning. Or. The following examples explore 
STEAM by Design teaching and learning as carried out in 
four workshops at the elementary, middle school, and high 
school levels. 

Case Study Nature Play Project 

The Challenge 

• Reimagine a playground 

• Empathize with and provide for multiple age users 

• Brainstorm new types of play 

• Engage natural light, air, water and habitat systems on 
school grounds 

• Use technology (Sound App) to analyze and respond to 

• Introduce natural habitats in outdoor areas 

• Collaborate and communicate design proposals 

In this workshop, a 4th grade class from a Milwaukee 
Charter School was challenged to initiate studies to 
transform their asphalt playground into a nature play area. 
(Figure 8) 

These dual conditions, nature, and play, started an 
investigation into five topics: Who played there? What types 
of play did the asphalt offer? What new kinds of activities 
would they like to have? What settings would provide best 
for those types of play? Could nature be introduced, and, if, 
so, where? Combining place-based, outdoor education with 
an e-learning platform, children accessed's Word 
Mapping, Site Analysis, Design Thinking, Play, and Outdoor 
Play Journeys to initiate questions and brainstorm ideas. 
(Figure 9) 

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Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 




STEAM by Design 

Figure 9. E-Learning support: Design Thinking, Word Mapping, Play and Outdoor Classroom Journeys. 



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Figure 10. Students brainstorming/word lists of senses, nature, games, activity, etc. 

Figure 11. Studying Light and Time with a Mobile App. 

Next, students were asked what kind of nature would they 
like to see in their playground. Beginning with grass, 
flowers, and trees, students quickly expanded to birds, 
flowers, squirrels, rabbits, butterflies and insects. (Figure 

Students then looked at their playground to learn the site, 
itself. They located where they came in and out; they 
placed a north arrow to understand the positioning of the 
playground and to determine where it was sunny and 
shady. They learned to tell time by the movement of the 
sun and the shadow cast by the clock tower. (Figure 11) 

Looking at aerial views (or plans) and perspectives (people 

views), they analyzed their playground. They discovered 
that they knew where it was windy, noisy and wet. They 
completed analysis diagrams and then placed their ideas 
onto the site plan drawing (Figure 12) and into the site 
perspective (Figure 13). As they collaged ideas onto a 
photograph of their schoolyard. (Figure 14) The audible 
energy filled the room. They were quite excited to 
transform their playground. 

Armed with pen and paper, the class again walked the 
playground to test if their analysis and placement of ideas 
was accurate and responsive. Students physically located 
the area drain and determined it to be the lowest part of 
the site. They also looked at two building facades facing 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 

STEAM by Design 

Figure 13. Envisioning Transformation with Figure 14. Experiential Vignettes. 

Nature using Collage. 

Figure 15. Testing Ideas on the Site. 

the playground as opportunities for a mural and a planted 
area. They noted where the playground was in sun and 
shade and which areas were suited for different age play 
depending on daily recess times. 

Using a sound app, students confirmed the street they 
thought was the busiest and the noisiest. It was indeed the 
road to the north, whereas the street to the west was 
quieter being buffered by some buildings and trees. 

(Figure 16) This led to their reflecting on what could be 
used to buffer the noise from this street. Some mentioned 
trees. Others suggested hills. 

Figure 16. Using Free Apps to Visualize Research 

Coming back inside the students were eager to get to 
work. In three self-selected teams the students (Team 
Green, Team Fun, and Team Active), the students spent 
forty-five minutes building their dream playgrounds. They 
exchanged ideas rapid fire and worked collaboratively as 
they contributed ideas. (Figure 17) The transition from 
individual ideas to group synthesis moved easily in the 
energy of generating a real model that would visualize 
three dimensionally what might be possible. 

The team models (Figure 18) reveal that the students took 
into account much that they had learned and filled their 
empty playground with interactive play, games, gardening 
areas as well as nature habitats. They buffered the noise of 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 




STEAM by Design 

Figure 17. Collaborating in teams to build out ideas on the existing playground. 

Figure 18. Team Models of Nature Play Classrooms. 

the street, created a water habitat in the low areas, used 
murals to identify the school, and envisioned areas to run, 
jump, climb and play while allowing for quiet areas to read, 
play board games, and have dress up and imaginary time. 
The school is now considering fund-raising to improve their 
play areas. 

The two-hour workshop exposed students to design 
thinking, design research, and the design process as a 
response to both physical realities and imagined 
possibilities. It provided a variety of activities to stimulate 
and motivate focused attention. It challenged students as 
they worked individually and collaboratively. The workshop 
offered a range of writing, drawing, mapping and modeling 
opportunities. Students worked with college art education 
and design students and with professional architects as 
role models. Students were introduced to both design- 
based processes and science and technology research 
techniques. The workshop introduced a natural mix of 

science, technology, engineering, environment, art, and 
math instruction for the school in a feasible and desirable 
project that was engaging and fun! The School is currently 
considering fund raising to improve the playground. 

Green School Workshop 
The Challenge 

• Reimagine their school 

• Observe, analyze and design with nature patterns 

• Brainstorm renewable area demonstrations 

• Engage natural light, air, water and habitat systems on 
school grounds 

• Understand movement of sun and orientation north, 
south, east or west 

• Introduce Outdoor Classrooms 

• Design and prototype Earth Day Pavilions for school 

• Collaborate and communicate on Design Proposals 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 

STEAM by Design 

Figure 19. E-Learning support: Green Schools, Nature Patterns, Site Programming, School Gardens, Pavilions. 

Figure 20. Students Drawn and Digitally Create seamlessly in One Workshop. 

Figure 21. Students learn new digital visualization 
programs and start teaching other students and 

The National Environmental Education Foundation's 
(NEEF) research shows that almost 100% of young 
children believe that the earth is worthy of caretaking 
(NEEF, 2010). STEAM by Design charges academic 
learning with environmental connections, digital fluency, 
and transdisciplinary activities. In this two hour Green Your 
School Workshop with thirty ESL students from an inner 
city, Milwaukee middle school, students, without art 
instruction, rapidly took to drawing, imagining and making. 
Students inhabited a letter with things important to them in 
their life; they chose flowers, birds, trees, friends, family, 
music, sports, etc. They then chose a nature picture, 
sketched it, analyzed its form and pattern, and 
diagrammed its geometry before designing an object, 
space, or environment. To move from recording a nature 
pattern to using it as a design element is an early step 
toward Biopilia, or love of all things living'. 

Figure 22. Students self-select materials to construct 
Earth Day Pavilions. 

Using diagrams of their school, students placed cut paper 
solar panels, wind turbines, outdoor classrooms, water 
gardens and urban agriculture plots based on site drainage, 
use, function and movement of the sun and winter winds. 
(Figure 19) Others chose to learn new digital skills (Google 
Scribble Maps) to digitally map changes to their school and 
began to teach other classmates how to use the free and 
friendly technology. 

(Figure 20) Students brainstormed and prototyped diverse 
'Earth Day' structures to be built on their school campuses 
to introduce new sustainable practices. (Figure 21,22,23) If 
similar art and design activities were allowed for two hours 
per week, students would have the opportunity to explore 
and communicate changes in their schools, school 
communities, and cities. They would be encouraged to be 
engaged and active citizens. 


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STEAM by Design 

Figure 23. Students draw nature patterns and Green their school with renewable energy sources and an Earth 
Day Pavilion for an outdoor classroom. 

Figure 24. E-Learning Resources: Green Cities, Green Flomes, Streets, Building Types, Skyscrapers. 

Green Cities Workshop 
The Challenge 

• What makes a city? 

• What makes a green city? 

• Role Play of Civic positions 

• Coordinate systems of earth, air, water, food, and energy 
with built environment 

• Design cities that analyze and respond to site 

• Introduce ideas about healthy cities 

• Collaborate and communicate on Design Proposals 

In Green City Workshops, forty 6th-grade girls from Chicago 
Public School formed self- selected teams to build green 
cities. E-Learning Resources were shared online and 
throughout the three hour workshop. (Figure 24) Placing 
the compass for the north arrow, and starting with a single 
house, girls established their home on a landscape close to 
a river. The basic needs of providing for a shelter, warmth, 
water and food sprouted farming fields, barns for animals, 
solar panels and water wells. Girls experienced strategies 
for orienting, ventilating, hydrating, vegetating, insulating, 
optimizing, materializing single family homes. Finding the 
overlapping needs of house placement in relationship to 
the land, opened imagination to why things are placed 
where and how buildings can be more responsive to 
location. Connecting the homes led to the activity of roads 
and path building. (Figure 19) 

Figure 25. Girls locate their single family homes on 
the rural landscape. 

Next girls were asked to define the roles of the Mayor, 
Health and Well-being Counselor (water, energy, food 
issues), Parks and Recreation, Business and Commercial, 
Education, Housing and Transportation Directors as they 
developed Main Streets, or small towns. Girls from each of 
the six communities 'traveled' to Mayor meetings, 
Transportation Conferences, Business Development 
Conferences, etc. to brainstorm ideas about their 
responsibilities in contributing to urban design and 
planning. Girls, in new 'professional' groups, worked with 
professional female mentors from the City of Chicago, The 
School of the Art Institute, and the Chicago Chapter AIA to 
brainstorm strategies and acquire necessary building 
materials. (Figure 26) 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 

STEAM by Design 

Figure 26. Girls attend civic mentoring brainstorming sessions with local professionals. 

Figure 27. Teams present their cities, noting successes and challenges. 

With the new charge to coordinate different approaches 
and systems of development, girls collaborated vigorously 
to contribute ideas from their disciplines, choosing what to 
place where and how best to create a healthy city. As cities 
were developing, mentors delivered 'new residents' with 
housing needs, business requests for Class A, B and C 
office buildings of companies wanting to establish 
themselves in the city, new schools or commercial 
buildings. Girls began to introduce greenhouses and 
vertical farming locations to feed their growing populations. 
As the girls moved 'down the river' to establish roads, 
bridges, and airports, they replaced forested areas but 
found areas within their growing cities to replant them. 
Growing cities increased demands on the river as a water 
source; girls responded with green roofs, a variety of 
porous green public space and water filtrating wetlands 
within their cities. At the end of the third hour, the teams 
presented their cities, introduced first by their mayors, 
followed by the directors sharing their challenges and 

The experience was an overpowering success. Shy girls 
were empowered as leaders. 6th graders became civic 
agents of change. Friends became collaborators working to 
create a successful city together. The sheer fun of exploring 
building at the urban scale overpowered the complexity of 
decisions to be made. The activity became the energy and 
the motivator creating a contagious and participatory 
learning environment. Students became powerful activists 
in introducing green infrastructure to their cities. They 
became aware of different types of buildings and the parts 
that the activities inside the buildings lend to city life. The 
underlying mission of the all of the cities was healthy living. 
This premise developed critical thinking in the girls as they 
considered what to place where and how to create 
adjacencies of urban needs. The students, their teachers 
and the mentors were all very proud of what was 
accomplished in the workshop. The ecopolises were 
display as part of the Chicago Biennial 'Outside Design' 
Exhibit. (Figure 27) 


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STEAM by Design 

Figure 28. E-Learning Resources for the CPL, DD, HIVE Funded Energy Hack. 

Education, to affect environmental and social issues, needs 
to develop expertise in future generations and equip them 
to be active participants in deciding urban issues (Brown, 
Cook, & Gabel, 1978). These competencies, called, 'eco- 
literacy', demonstrate a personal affinity with the earth 
through outdoor activities (ELF, 2008). Noting a three- 
decade interrupt of advocacy for environmental 
stewardship, urbanization of the world from the 1950's 
self-sufficient agrarian populations to the current linear 
nonrenewable fossil fuel-driven metabolism of the mega¬ 
cities makes the charge for design-based learning an 
emergency situation. Children have inherited political and 
economic structures, and they have inherited an even 
greater responsibility to evaluate the possibility of living 
better on earth in the future. 

In a systems approach, adding eco-literacy as a new 
literacy to schools brings traditional subjects in connection 
to the larger earth, air, and energy cycles. Previously 
isolated subjects in classrooms then spill out onto the 
schoolyard and cross over into the school community to 
ground children's imaginations in the climate, topography, 
and landscape of the places where they live and learn. 
STEAM by Design provides opportunities for students to 
interact with complex systems and critical decision-making 
in the environments in which they learn. 

Energy Hack CPS Students 
The Challenge 

Does a STEAM by a design-based approach to teaching 
complex energy systems result in greater student 
comprehension and extended engagement with 
conserving energy and using renewable energy sources 
than traditional instructional methods? 

Chicago Public Library You Media, Chicago Architecture 
Foundation Discover Design, and ELearning 
Designopeida (Figure 28) teamed on a HIVE Energy Hack 
Grant to conduct a series of design workshops that would 
introduce energy and energy hacking to Chicago Public 
School teens. The researchers used a STEAM by Design 

approach to learning about energy, changes in energy 
practice, and best energy practices. The researchers had 
three specific goals: 

1. Explore STEAM by Design in the study of energy through 
a design-based approach. 

2. Examine whether the framework of STEAM by Design 
learning could help students think and engage deeply 
about the topic. 

3. Investigate implementation of STEAM by Design 
methods in an after school workshop setting in a library 
teen center. 

By creating a learning experience where students attempt 
an energy hack on a library space, researchers 
hypothesized that students could gain a more functional 
and working understanding of conventional energy systems 
and opportunities for mindful energy use than students 
learning from directed instruction. We combined aspects of 
research investigation, modeling, and career engagement 
with design-based learning to create a series of sixteen fun 
and intense 90-minute workshops over an eight-week 
period. This methodology primed with e-Learning, both 
with the Designopedia and with Chicago 
Architecture Foundation's Discover Design, extended with 
real life modeling and ending with design and modeling of 
propositions at three different scales was tested over 
students from different schools and with multiple attention 
spans and learning techniques. 

This research worked with eight high school students from 
different schools over 16 consecutive Tuesday and 
Thursday 90-minute workshop sessions. The researchers 
conducted an informal verbal survey of initial energy 
knowledge. Questions were asked about how the students 
got energy, retained energy and used energy. Students 
were asked where energy for their homes came from. 
Workshops were videotaped and observed, with the 
researchers maintaining research logs. Workshops began 
with directed presentations during which students would 
arrive, unpack, sit down, settle and focus. Worksheets of 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 

STEAM by Design 

Figure 29. Energy Hack WKI Building a Solar Chart 
( & Chicago HIVE, CPL You Media & CAF 
Discovery Design, 2015). 

Figure 30. Energy Hack WK I Movement of the 
Sun ( & Chicago HIVE, CPL You Media & CAF 
Discovery Design, 2015). 

Figure 31. Energy Hack WK I Movement of the 
Sun ( & Chicago HIVE, CPL You Media & CAF 
Discovery Design, 2015). 

Figure 32. Energy Hack WK I Movement of the 
Sun ( & Chicago HIVE, CPL You Media & CAF 
Discovery Design, 2015) SketchUP Model of Library 

different complexity were completed weekly to combine 
listening and note taking skills and reinforce concepts and 
vocabulary through repetition and documented research. 

In Week 1 workshops, students studied the science of 
natural light, its seasonal altitude and azimuth using quickly 
constructed house models and a solar chart. (Figure 29) 
Also, students observed the color and heat of light 
between candles and incandescent, solar beads, 
fluorescent and LED lights. They also studied absorption, 
refraction, reflection, and transmission with prisms, 
different surfaces, and materials. (Figure 30) In evaluating 
the library space, they concluded that it was so dark due to 
the absorptive colors of the floor and walls and height of 
the ceiling lights. They also noted that there was only 
general lighting and not accent or task lighting. 

Students completed a SketchUp model of the library 
space. (Figure 32) To test unobstructed sunlight coming o 
the space, the students physically measured (in strides) 
the street width in front of the library and visually estimated 
the height of the building across the street to add to the 
model. They tested for sunlight from the morning, noon 
and afternoon sunlight on the library space. Some students 
needed more support for modeling the light. The 
researchers noted an initial difference in ability between 
students' concentration on research and their project 

explorations, but observed strong group-level collaboration 
within the group and across sub groups. 

Week II students used handheld photometers to measure 
light levels around the space, outside, and during a lighting 
lab tour of a local architectural firm. They learned about 
lamp types, lighting strategies and color rendition of lamps 
from practicing lighting designers and interior architects. 
(Figure 33) 

They completed take-home worksheets locating types of 
bulbs: incandescent/compact fluorescent, and LED; 
placement of bulbs: recessed/surface 
mounted/scone/desk lamp/table lamp, and hours lights 
were on. Students were asked to read light bulb boxes and 
compare bulb lumens, wattage and life span. Students did 
energy calculations, Watts of energy used = watts per bulb 
x time and compared energy savings of different bulbs. 

Week III students talked about the types of energy sources 
they already knew. Most students could mention coal, oil, 
and natural gas. Researching renewable energy sources 
online, they found solar, wind, nuclear and hydrological 
options. One student started research biking a stationary 
bike as an option. Students built and tested solar kits inside 
and wind vane technologies outside and online. (Figures 
35, 36) 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 




STEAM by Design 

Figure 33. Energy Hack WKII Visit to SOM Lighting 
LAB ( & Chicago HIVE, CPL You Media & CAF 
Discovery Design, 2015). 

Figure 35. Energy Hack WK III Solar Activation( 
& Chicago HIVE, CPL You Media & CAF Discovery 
Design, 2015). 


Figure 34. Energy Hack WKIII Home Light and Energy 
Assessments ( & Chicago HIVE, CPL You Media 
& CAF Discovery Design, 2015). 

Figure 36. Energy Hack WK III Energy Producing Wind 
Vanes( & Chicago HIVE, CPL You Media & CAF 
Discovery Design, 2015). 

Figure 38. Energy Hack WK IV ( & Chicago 
HIVE, CPL You Media & CAF Discovery Design, 2015). 

Figure 39. Energy Hack WK IV ( & Chicago HIVE, CPL You Media & CAF Discovery Design, 2015). 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 

STEAM by Design 

Figure 40. Energy Hack Wk V ( & Chicago HIVE, CPL You Media & CAF Discovery Design, 2015). 

Figure 41. Energy Hack Wk V ( & Chicago HIVE, CPL You Media & CAF Discovery Design, 2015). 

Students brainstormed what was needed to improve the 
library space in terms of personal comfort and use and 
took decibel readings of the noise in the space and 
checked the space with ultraviolet, hand held, monitors for 
temperature differentials and infiltration along door and 
window openings. (Figure 38) They were surprised to find 
no leakage, even on a windy day. Students were lent the 
photometers and ultraviolet testers to study their own 
homes and were surprised to find many drafty areas. 

Week IV students concentrated on US energy and smart 
grids. None knew how many energy grids there were in 
the United States or what main components were needed 
to bring energy into their homes. Students used's 
Smart Grid Journey to learn the parts, map the three grids 
and put the parts of the delivery of energy to the home in 
order. They collaborated on measuring the windows in the 
space, brainstorming energy hacks, and fabricating physical 
and digital prototype models. (Figures 38, 39) They then 
turned their attention with their new knowledge of light, 
light behavior, and program needs, to model ideas. 

Week V students met with the Library Building Manager 
and the company that had recently retrofitted the lights 
throughout the library. (Figure 41) Students were amazed 
to learn that the library was not heated! The thick walls, 
heat from the lights, masses of books on shelves and heat 
from library clients, kept the building warm. Students 
critiqued the teen space as not being lit well and often 
cold. The Building Manager pointed out the addition of 
electrical wall units to the teen space as the recent energy 
saving measure was to install more energy efficient lights 
that gave off less heat and lasted longer. Students were 
able to see the energy audit company demonstrate testing 
that they had done with inexpensive photometers, 
temperature and humidity thermometers, and infrared heat 
differential laser recorders. They worked actively on a group 
model of the entire room, prototypes of energy hacks at 
the front windows, and completed a full scale mock up. 

In the outtake survey, 75% of the students reported 
knowing very little about careers in energy. After meeting 
and working with professional architects, lighting designers, 
and engineers, over 50% of the students felt like they 
knew very well the diversity of careers in energy; the rest 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 




STEAM by Design 

Figure 42. Energy Hack WK V Multiple scale assimilations of lighter colored surfaces, sound absorbing walls, 
window seats lit by solar activated light scoop. ( & Chicago HIVE, CPL You Media & CAF Discover Design, 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 

STEAM by Design 

felt that their understanding was open and growing. At the 
beginning of the workshop, half of the students admitted 
to barely knowing about design research; at the end, 75% 
of the students felt they knew the role of design as 'half a 
pro' and the others as 'very well. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Before Week I's 
Workshop, half of the students did not know the difference 
in basic types of light bulbs while 75% did not know how 
to compare bulb types regarding energy efficiency. At the 
end, 100% knew the different light bulbs in the residential 
market and how to compare energy efficiency when 
buying bulbs. In the beginning, 75% of students did not 
know about footcandles, or lumens, or the use of a 
photometer to read light levels for general, task or accent 
lighting. By the last workshop, 75% knew how to use light 
meters very well and the other 25% almost 'half a pro.' In 
the beginning, 70% had never thought about the electrical 
grid. After the eLearning support and worksheet, 80% 
knew about electrical grids very well, including their 
components en route from energy production to the 
home. A third of the students reported that measuring of 
the window areas and library space was difficult. Another 
mentioned learning all of the new stuff was a bit 
troublesome because they admitted not knowing anything 
about energy before.' In conclusion, students reported that 
the extended workshops were fun. Some wrote that they 
would like to do it all over again. Others wrote that it was 
very educational. One student commented, "A great way to 
show the importance and option to live within our means.' 
The students, from different schools, formed friendships 
and a collaborative learning environment. One student 
reported, "It was a fun and caring environment.' Unlike the 
earlier single short session two-four hour workshops, the 
extended schedule of workshops allowed for deeper 
learning, awareness extensions, reflection and curiosity 
development, and testing of propositions at multiple 
scales. Here are six recommendations: 

1. Present challenges as involving relevant fields of 
information. Support weekly challenges with physical 
materials and E-Learning research. 

2. Engage in priming activities students can practice and 
apply outside of school to build generalization and 

3. Moderate regular group reflection to encourage students 
to examine broadly ideas and issues. 

4. Allow teams to study components of the challenge and 
present findings to build a holistic understanding of the 
problem and design solutions. 

5. Support workshops with practicing scientists, engineers, 
artists and designers to validate student learning and 
share career possibilities. 

6. Have students celebrate final presentation with reflection 
on the process. 

Students engaged in active STEAM by Design experiences 
become highly motivated by the challenge and — through 
extensive research, group work, and discussion — become 
more deeply involved in complex issues and the need to 
test proposed solutions. The variety of physical and digital 
prototyping give students chances to work individually or in 
groups through various mediums. The weekly sessions 
build memory as well as knowledge. The emotional 
connection of building memory of experience strengthens 
and deepens learning. The extended time also gave 
workshops participants to meet with and interact with 
diverse professionals working in the field of energy and 
design. These opportunities expanded assessment to 
include knowledge about behavior with activism for and 
responsibility to implement changes in energy use for the 
students. These experiences deepened learning for all. 

STEAM by Design integrates information about the 
environment, energy and energy use for rethinking energy 
consumption at home and for completing an energy hack 
in a public library teen space. This study presented 
students with a complex challenge, requiring student 
identification of and engagement with the knowledge and 
skills necessary to successfully solve the problem or 
address the challenge. Students were introduced and used 
the design process of discovery (observation and reflection 
of current conditions and knowledge, research, 
documentation, experimentation, data analysis, testing, 
evaluation and proposition at a range of scales) to improve 
conditions. "Priming" exercises with everyday technologies 
introduced energy use of people and buildings 
simultaneously; students accessed Energy and Buildings 
Like Bodies Journeys to assimilate human energy use for 
living with buildings' energy use for providing support for 
living comfortably. They took visual notes in energy 
journals choosing and discussing energy symbols and 
types of energy. They completed worksheets theoretically 
internalizing knowledge to a greater degree through active 
engagement and experimentation in learning about energy 
politically, socially, culturally, environmentally and 
technologically, rather than receiving the information 
through traditional lecture or presentations. 

STEAM E-Learning with a DESIGNopedia 

Support for art and design-based learning receives support 
from new national K-12 standards, including Next 
Generation Science Standards (NGSS), National Core Arts 
Standards, and North American Association for 
Environmental Education Standards. As the new standards 
stimulate research and curriculum development across 
disciplines, new learning opportunities arise in the form of 
an ever-increasing number of standards-aligned curriculum 
resources, including interactive simulations and modeling 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 




STEAM by Design 



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Figure 43. E-Learning Tools, Languages, Discovery and Design Journeys of Designopedia. 

software. Students of all ages can now access resources for 
formal, art and designed-based instruction across 
disciplines as well as for informal, self-directed learning. 
Outstanding examples include projects in biology, robotics, 
and engineering design. The Learning, Research, and 
Design Center at the University of Pittsburg, Phet 
Interactive Simulations, the University of Colorado at 
Boulder, and the Learn Genetics Resources at the 
University of Utah, are innovative resources integrating 
research with technology, arts, and design-based learning. 

STEAM by Design supported with E-Learning emulates the 
entrepreneurial mindset and stimulates the individual's 
ability to turn ideas into action (World Economic Forum, 
2009). The Enquiring Minds Report (Morgan, et. al., 2007) 
explains how students' ideas, interests, and experiences 
can inform the content, processes, and outcomes of 
teaching and learning in schools. The student selected 
approach aligns design not only as an individual practice 
but also as a team effort as students contribute diverse 
interests to work together simultaneously learning from 
each other in a design studio culture. STEAM by Design 
draws upon the active learning methodologies of design 
education and tests new ideas on a foundation of learned 
knowledge. It leads to processes that result in creativity, 
innovation, and continued growth and exploration of the 
world (Zhao, 2012). 

Creativity and innovation matter in today's global economy. 
President Obama announced ConnectED, an initiative to 
create access to professional e-Learning opportunities for 

teachers and students.'s online e-Learning 
activities, research links, and access to everyday digital tools 
are valuable and needed as a ConnectED creativity and 
innovation resource that blurs learning, work, play, and fun 
with global citizenship. According to Eileen Pollack, "Last 
year, the President's Council of Advisers on Science and 
Technology issued an urgent plea for substantial reform if 
we are to meet the demand for one million more STEM 
professionals than the United States is currently on track to 
produce in the next decade" (New York Times, 2013). With 
STEM jobs on the increase and not enough students to 
answer the need, curriculum that expands and diversifies a 
STEAM -literate and STEAM ready population can be 
achieved through development of design opportunities for 

The future is transdisciplinary, so interdisciplinary 
connections between and across discrete subjects are 
necessary for schools today. Other countries are shifting 
from teaching traditional subjects to teaching 'topics' 
(Dolasia, 2015). Teachers must cultivate opportunities for 
student-selected integration of topics for innovation. 
Acknowledging that information is accessible and 
constantly under construction, students need to have 
opportunities to construct knowledge pertinent to projects 
and be encouraged to pursue making, tinkering and testing 
while still in school. Standard academic foundations must 
now serve as 'kick-starters' for real world practices. 
According to Martinez and Stager (2013), "creation is the 
heart of creativity and is only meaningful when grounded 
in action - it's not a feeling, a mindset, or an outcome" (p. 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 

STEAM by Design 

Figure 44. E-Learning Designopedia: Choose Scales, Subjects & Topics. 

80). These sentiments resonate back to Dewey's work in 
Experience & Education when he writes that if an 
experience arouses curiosity, strengthens initiative, and sets 
up desires and purposes that are sufficiently intense to 
carry a person over dead places in the future, continuity 
works in a very different way. Every experience is a moving 
force (p. 38). 

In this growing network of innovative leaders in arts and 
design-based learning,, a Designopedia that 
develops ethical imagination and environmental 
stewardship, takes its place as a leading proponent of 
STEAM by Design, particularly as it provides opportunities 
for students to develop design knowledge and skills about 
environmental stewardship. It links K-12 students with 
college students and careers in contemporary art, science, 
environment and design practices. It shares access to 
digital tools, learning videos, museum interactives and 
virtual field trips exploring tropics transdisciplinarily., founded as an educational non profit in 2007, 
introduces online transdisciplinary activities for students 
and teachers to informally investigate ways of knowing 
about the world that are topically connected to 
contemporary ways of exploring the world. Design thinking, 
research, process, and making activities connect easily to 

other knowledge fields collaborating and sharing 
knowledge to inform solutions to situations that need 
improvement. Introduced to, and modified by, teachers in 
over one hundred professional development workshops, 
over 90% of teachers surveyed responded that this way of 
reaching learners was important. The majority of 
responders did not introduce design in art or science 
classes prior to the workshop. Workshops sparked a new 
and greater interest in learning in general. In every 
instance, students explored ideas using physical and digital 
tools. Workshops with elementary, middle school, and high 
school students instantly engaged learners, some without 
arts instruction, others not interested in science or 
mathematics, to new modes of learning not encountered 
before. Post workshop, students reported enjoying the 
opportunity to use new tools and simultaneous tools to 
imagine new ways of interacting with objects, media, space 
and environments; they also reported that they felt more 
connected with careers that continued the type of work 
they had encountered in the workshop. E-Learning 
supports informal STEAM interests of students, pedagogy 
of teachers, and transformational changes in learning. As 
other countries shift effective teaching from the delivery of 
instruction to the building of an education system and 
curriculum around the potential of the learner (Bolstad & 
Gilbert, 2012),'s Designopeida supports twenty- 


Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 21.1 




STEAM by Design 

first century technology accessed informal learning in 
STEAM-related contexts for students and teachers. hits the twenty-first century learning sweet spot! 
(Wasserman, 2012). It is brilliant scaffolding for design- 
based learning. delivers content in context 
embedded in templates and tools. It is at the right level 
between abstract concept and concrete instantiation. It 
builds both subject matter mastery and meta-cognitive 
skills. It reifies domain knowledge transparently as 
generative engagement. Seamlessly, it inculcates habits of 
attentive observation, heuristic discovery, and self¬ 
reflection. It speaks epistemological authority with a light, 
non-pedantic voice. Beyond all that, is intrinsically 
motivating, which is the fancy term for FUN! (Wasserman, 
2012 ). 

STEAM by Design E-Learning uses everyday digital 
technology to connect formal learning with informal 
learning, blurring boundaries and investing in lifelong 
learning mindsets. The blurring of boundaries shifts the 
teaching of disciplines to the teaching of 'topics'. 
assists school districts in connecting disciplines in design- 
based projects conceptually framed in topics. By linking 
scales of design affected by topics, students are introduced 
to systems thinking and relational thinking. 

Students and teachers report that using online resources 
helps to expand design opportunities and build informed 
decision- making; it allows the student to process, rethink, 
and redesign with new information over time (Escuela 
Verde, 2014). STEAM by Design creates contexts for 
focused attention and extends concentration through 
initiation to the execution of ideas. Repeated as a process 
in response to different issues, design exercises and 
expands minds as skills and experience scaffold. Building 
focus, selecting strategies and objectives, and realizing 
ideas build expertise. Let STEAM by Design capture the 
imagination of our schools with new ways of knowing, 
learning and making. 


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