3 Survival Skills for Building a Successful STEAM Program


3 Survival Skills for Building a Successful STEAM Program

Mastering Survival Skills in STEAM Education

Join us on an exciting journey where survival skills meet teaching experience to create a STEAM environment where curiosity, collaboration and creativity flourish. Inspired by the PCS Edventures’ STEAM Enrichment Program Survivor, let’s uncover the “survival” skills needed to design and implement successful STEAM programs.

In the Survivor enrichment program, learners sharpen their survival skills to tackle challenges encountered in the great outdoors. Similarly, educators need to sharpen their own survival skills to thrive.

These skills can be categorized into three main parts:

  1. Navigating STEAM Program Organization
  2. Nurturing Soft Skills for STEAM Success
  3. Networking for STEAM Resources

Survivor Skill #1: Navigating Program Organization

Just like survivalists meticulously plan their expeditions, educators must carefully structure their STEAM programs. Here are some pro tips on how to navigate the essentials of STEAM program organization:

  • Decide the number of STEAM choices you can facilitate.
  • Organize learners into STEAM groups based on their selections.
  • Establish the start and end date for the unit of study.
  • Prepare and collect resources to support learning throughout the unit.
  • Create forms to track progress.
  • Set realistic expectations for both educators and learners.
  • Model flexible thinking — STEAM learning requires adaptability and problem-solving.

For a deeper dive into additional steps to thrive and survive in STEAM program organization, check out our blog post, Create Flexible Learning Opportunities.

Survivor Skill #2: Nurturing Soft Skills for STEAM Success

Just like a compass keeps you on track and guides you through new discoveries, nurturing soft skills will keep you on track for a successful STEAM adventure.

Encouraging Curiosity:

Observation and an insatiable curiosity about the environment allow survivalists to thrive in the wilderness. Understanding what kindles this flame of curiosity in our learners creates a learning environment like an open space, ready for exploration where learners are not mere spectators but active participants. Ask yourself, what topics or questions fuel learners’ thirst for knowledge?

By nurturing this built-in curiosity, learners are encouraged to ask questions, probe new ideas and immerse themselves in hands-on experimentation. It’s about fostering a sense of wonder about the world and empowering learners to create their own learning journeys.

PCS Edventures offers a variety of STEAM programming options to engage learners and keep curiosity alive. One of our favorites, Da Vinci Camp, is a complete STEAM solution that provides over 12 hours of STEAM programming designed to encourage and foster curiosity.

Promoting Collaboration and Communication:

In Survivor, participants collaborate as a team to overcome authentic survival challenges. Effective communication and teamwork skills are indispensable for accomplishing each mission successfully.

In STEAM education, collaboration and communication are fundamental skills — working together fosters better communication and enhances leadership and problem-solving abilities. Collaborating allows you to gain insights from different perspectives, paving the way for innovative solutions.

A STEAM-friendly room design facilitates collaboration and communication by promoting peer-to-peer learning opportunities. Sturdy work tables, especially those allowing kids to stand, encourage active engagement in the learning process. When possible, opt for large worktables over individual desks to foster a sense of community and teamwork, much like survivalists pooling their resources and expertise to overcome obstacles of the great outdoors, learners working together can achieve remarkable results. If your space is limited, transform a section of the room into a small maker space with a single worktable to provide a focal point for collaborative projects. Mastering effective student grouping is a crucial tool in your STEAM survival kit to boost engagement.

For a deeper dive into improving collaboration skills and maximizing student engagement, check out our blog post: Student Grouping Strategies to Maximize Engagement.

Fostering Creativity:

In the wild, survivalists rely on creativity to adapt, overcome obstacles and thrive in challenging environments. Similarly, in the realm of STEAM education, creativity guides both educators and learners toward new discoveries. Creativity fuels innovation, inspiring us to view STEM challenges with fresh perspectives and consider various possibilities. Just as survivalists must think outside the box to overcome challenges in the wild, educators and learners tap into their creative instincts to tackle complex STEAM problems.

“Proficiency in the arts will be particularly important to engineers and computer scientists in emerging industries, such as themed experiences, gaming, simulation, and training,” explains Ali P. Gordon, Ph.D., an associate professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida. “Programmers and engineers are increasingly teamed up with artists to co-develop software, products, renderings, and more.” According to 2018 and 2019 LinkedIn reports, 57 percent of senior leaders prioritize soft skills, such as creativity and communication, over technical skills, while the top three skills sought after by companies are creativity, persuasion and collaboration.

By blending the arts with STEM, STEAM-focused programs embrace a wide range of disciplines, including humanities, language arts, visual arts and design. This holistic approach enriches learners’ experiences and enhances their marketability in today’s job market.

To learn more about the importance of blending the arts into STEM education, read more in this blog post: SMart Engineering: The Intersection of Science, Math and Art (edventures.com). STEM employers are quickly discovering what educators have known all along—the importance of integrating the arts into STEM.

Looking for a fun way to implement STEAM? PCS Edventures offers a ton of free resources to assist you. Check out this favorite: Geometric Marine Life.

Subscribers also have access to these great resources:

STEAM Sprint Showdown
Fast-paced challenges to fill those in-between moments! These fun speedy challenges showcase several PCS Edventures programs.

STEAM & Optical Illusions
Connect the magic of optical illusions to science, math and art with these fun-filled STEAM Enrichment activities.

Emphasizing Problem-Solving:

Both survivalists and STEMists embrace problem-solving as a fundamental survival skill. STEAM educators play a vital role in challenging learners to tackle complex problems, think critically and apply their knowledge to find innovative solutions. By emphasizing real-world applications, educators create opportunities for authentic learning experiences.

To promote problem-solving skills, establish a problem-solving board featuring weekly challenges for learners to tackle. These challenges offer authentic opportunities to apply knowledge in practical scenarios, fostering creativity, collaboration and resilience.

PCS Edventures programs present real-world experiences that captivate learners. Whether applying design solutions to the structural challenges of natural disasters in our Build a Better World curriculum or testing new technology in Ready, Set, Drone! learners engage with meaningful challenges that mirror those encountered in the real world.

For a deeper exploration of the importance of the problem-solving process, check out: Failure is Advantageous. This resource highlights the importance of embracing failure as a stepping stone to success, encouraging learners to persevere in the face of challenges and learn from their mistakes.

Survivor Skill #3: Networking for STEAM Resources

Access to Tried-and-True Resources:

Just as survivalists carefully pack their backpacks with essential resources before embarking on a journey, ensuring access to resources is a vital survival skill in STEAM education. A well-equipped STEAM lab should offer a diverse array of tools, materials and technology, providing learners with everything they need to conduct experiments, build prototypes and delve into their interests and passions.

To help educators prepare their STEAM labs, PCS Edventures offers a comprehensive Back-to-School STEAM Checklist. Some items on the list include:

  • Engineering Design Construction Materials
  • BrickLAB Perfect Bricks
  • Online Resources
  • Recyclable Materials
  • Craft Supplies
  • Pattern Blocks

Additionally, educators benefit from a STEAM curriculum meticulously designed and tested by experts in the field. Many of PCS Edventures’ STEAM collections come with all the supplies needed, along with step-by-step instructions that make implementation a breeze. Explore collections: BrickLAB, STEAM Enrichment, Discover and Drones.

PCS Edventures’ programming is aligned with various educational standards, including 21st Century Skills, Next Generations Science Standards, Common Core State Standards, Habits of Mind, and National Core Arts Standards. Each STEAM kit provides detailed lesson plans that outline the specific standards and skills covered. Additionally, purchases over $500 include complimentary product orientations. Additional training options are also available for purchase.

Here’s what’s included within programs for each collection:

☆ 100% reusable BrickLAB building bricks
☆ Engaging, project-based lessons for up to 30 learners
☆ Optional lesson extensions
☆ Turn-key implementation
☆ Aligned to national education standards

STEAM Enrichment
☆ Curriculum and materials for up to 30 learners
☆ 12 hours of engaging, flexible lessons
☆ Optional lesson extensions
☆ Turn-key implementation
☆ Aligned to national education standards

☆ Hands-on, student-led curriculum
☆ Engaging topics such as game development, video production, engineering and robotics!
☆ Build 21st century skills
☆ Explore growing STEM career fields

☆ Scaffolded, student-led curriculum
☆ Explore the world’s fastest-growing technology
☆ Packages designed for 10-30 learners
☆ 30+ contact hours ☆ Introductory webinar and live tech support

Grant and Funding Opportunities:

For those seeking additional funding to expand their STEAM programming and resources, PCS Edventures also provides valuable tips for accessing grants and building successful STEM grant proposals. Bookmark Funding and Grant Opportunities and check it monthly for updates to grants and funding opportunities available for STEAM Education.

Our Top 10 Tips to Building a Successful STEM Grant Proposal and STEM Grant Writing are available to help you secure access to funds to grow your STEAM program. With the right resources at your disposal, you can create a dynamic STEAM learning environment that inspires curiosity, creativity and innovation.

STEAM Solution: Survive and Thrive

Just as survivalists rely on their instincts and tools to overcome challenges, educators can rely on PCS Edventures to be their trusted partner in delivering easy-to-implement STEAM programs. With our dedication to excellence and innovation, we empower educators to unleash their learners’ potential and navigate the ever-changing landscape of STEAM education.

Don’t wait, subscribe today to gain access to our free resources and embark on a journey of discovery and growth with PCS Edventures. Together, let’s pave the way for a future where every learner can flourish and thrive in STEAM education.

Inspired by:

Survivor-PCS edventures.com

In this dynamic enrichment program, learners explore positive character development through mock survival situations and gain crucial skills such as knot tying, water purification and compass navigation. Bringing STEM to the great outdoors through exercise and movement, instructors love the hands-on, collaborative, social-emotional learning curriculum. With each thrilling activity, students problem-solve and put their new skills to the test in order to conquer every challenge Mother Nature throws their way.

What are your favorite STEAM Survival Tips?

Tell us in the comments below:

Subscribe to join the PCS Edventures STEMbassador Community. Receive exclusive perks and offers throughout the year.

Author: Kim Turner

A life-long learner and lover of education, Kim has 30 years of education experience with STEM labs, gifted and talented courses and more!


“Comparing Stem vs. Steam: Why the Arts Make A Difference.” UCF Online, 2 Dec. 2022, www.ucf.edu/online/engineering/news/comparing-stem-vs-steam-why-the-arts-make-a-difference/.

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