Project Profile

Authentic Art Making as a Vehicle for Connecting to STEM Learning and Careers


This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by drawing explicit connections between the artistic practices in the studio and the practices of STEM professionals. It will also contribute to the field's understanding of how to develop interdisciplinary educational experiences that capitalize on naturally occurring opportunities for transfer of knowledge and skill across disciplines. Artists for Humanity and Education Development Center, Inc. are collaborating to develop and study a model for using authentic art-making to promote high school students' interest in STEM learning and STEM careers. The project builds on a highly successful Artists for Humanity out-of-school-time art and design program for Boston youth, which uses an apprenticeship model to educate under-resourced youth through mentor-guided creation and sale of artworks.

Youth at Artists for Humanity represent a racially and ethnically diverse, low-income demographic. Few teens entering AFH experience success in STEM learning, or express interest in STEM careers. Yet many engage in sophisticated art-making that calls on a variety of STEM-related practices, dispositions, and knowledge without recognizing the connection to their in-school STEM studies. STEAM Power will highlight the STEM thinking students do in the art studio, drawing explicit connections between the artistic practices in the studio and the practices of STEM professionals to help youth: develop a view of STEM that expands their school experiences, recognize their own STEM strengths, and increase their interest and confidence in pursuing further STEM study and careers. The goal of the project is to increase teen artists' interest in STEM and STEM careers by highlighting the STEM thinking they do in the studio and deepening their STEM learning within this relevant and motivating context. By looking to impact the STEM interests and potential career choices of youth whose artistic training places a premium on thinking creatively, working collaboratively, and communicating effectively, a segment of the youth population is impacted that, while currently underrepresented in the workforce, has much energy and vision to offer STEM fields.


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Principal Investigator(s)
Co-Principal Investigator(s)


Award Number
Project Duration
2015 - 2019
Artists For Humanity, MA
Project Work State
Target Gradespan(s)
High school (9-12)
Project Setting(s)
Informal Education
Geographic Location(s)
Project Status
Additional Disciplines
Engineering - design
Additional Target Participants
STEM Professionals
English Learners
Students eligible for Free/reduced price lunch
American Indian or Alaskan Native
Black or African American
Hispanic or Latino
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander