Cultivating Creativity in STEAM Education: Strategies for Encouraging Creative Problem-Solving and Design Thinking

cultivating creativity

Teaching kids to become creative in problem-solving and design thinking will help them flourish in a STEAM-focused job world. Cultivating creativity in STEAM education encourages students to not only become proficient in 21st-century skills but it teaches them to become innovators for 21st-century work! This article, therefore, will engage with multiple ways to cultivate creativity in STEAM education for young students. 

Hands-On Projects

A fun way of cultivating creativity in STEAM education is through hands-on projects. Hands-on projects are helpful because studies have shown that we remember the actions we say and do. Additionally, visual actions are more powerful in remembering skills than when the skills are only talked about. In practice, while a math class might have application problems geared toward calculating numbers to build a home, an Architectural Design Class like the one offered at 21stCentEd would teach how to draw basic plans and discern dimension-specific shapes to practice content application. This practice helps with memory retention. It also takes application questions one step further by engaging in the application and designing a project. Hands-on projects foster problem-solving skills and teach kids how to become creative in their work. 

Encouraging Academic Independence 

An offshoot of hands-on projects is encouraging academic independence. To cultivate creative problem-solvers and design-thinkers, students must be encouraged to make their work their own. Unfortunately, school can foster a mentality of studying to pass a test, never remembering any material later in life. Teaching students to become passionate about learning is key in STEAM education. Offering classes such as Creativity and Innovation, students can learn how to hone in on their favorite ideas, become entrepreneurs, and develop a creative process routine that can be used in everyday life! Academic independence can allow students to choose the books they read, design a dream house, or use their own gaming ideas for code. Instead of being rigid in curriculum, incorporating academic flexibility allows kids to take off with their own ideas. This makes learning a life-long practice. 

Safe Environments for Failure

In environments where failing leads to shame and humiliation, kids develop a defeatist mentality. On the contrary, when failure is viewed as an opportunity to try something new, kids are encouraged to try again. To be an innovator means failure is inevitable, and to engage in problem-solving means failure is inevitable! Teaching children at an early age that failure is part of the learning process means they will develop habits of design-thinking without fear of messing up and being wrong. Albert Einstein is remembered for his innovative legacy, and even he admitted that “failure is success in progress.” Cultivating creativity in STEAM education means encouraging the process of trying, failing, trying, and succeeding.


Engaging with relevant material is key to creativity. If a group of high schoolers were asked to research different types of leather, most would drag their hands begrudgingly across their keyboards in an attempt to throw together an essay. If the same group of students were asked to research the upbringing of their favorite celebrity, their response would probably be much different. Both assignments teach students how to research and investigate, but one piques the students’ interest far more than the other. As a parent, listening to what your child enjoys is important.

21stCentEd recognizes the importance of relevancy and therefore offers a class where the virtual world of Minecraft is combined with Snap Circuits to teach engineering and construction! Relevant content will encourage students to become independent learners, and they will, therefore, chase after goals rooted in their passions. 

Cultivating Creativity Beyond the Classroom 

As problem-solvers and design-thinkers, learning is not just for the classroom. Students should be encouraged to take what they learn and use it for the enjoyment and benefit of their family, friends, and community. STEAM teaches how to think critically and apply practically, which means this way of learning, if done right, will naturally cultivate a desire to serve the needs of others. Whether the student is learning about technology in healthcare or cybersecurity, a good education will encourage the student to apply what they have learned for the betterment of their community. Instead of teaching abstract principles and lessons, STEAM education focuses on the applicable and the practical. This enables students to become innovators in a rapidly changing 21st-century workforce. 

Why Does This Matter? 

Classroom and out-of-classroom education needs to look drastically different than in prior generations. It should focus on the needs of living in a post-modern world. Engaging with STEAM topics at an early age will teach children skills that will equip them for business success. By teaching kids to problem solve and think critically through hands-on and relevant projects, they will build good habits. Helpful habits include thinking outside the box and learning to embrace the demands of STEAM jobs with creativity and confidence. 

Looking for Accessible STEAM Education? 

As we move into the twenty-first century, STEAM subjects are becoming essential for students to learn. Getting familiar with technology and learning to use and create it opens a wide field of jobs. Here at 21stCentEd, we are passionate about helping young people prepare for a bright future in which their STEAM skills will help them find jobs that will be relevant in this digital age.

Leave a Reply

About 21stCentEd

At 21stCentEd, a strong tomorrow is what we’re all about. We’ve been deeply invested in creating interactive STEM tools for kids for many years.