The Role of Art and Design in STEM

The main pillars of STEM are science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM, on the other hand, is a form of scientific education that incorporates the arts. Art and design, though seemingly unrelated to scientific fields, are deeply intertwined with science, technology, engineering, and even math. Art and design serve an important role in STEM education.


Though STEM on its own has many benefits for students and society as a whole, it is lacking. According to Cornell University, approximately 50% of American college students who select a STEM major, like engineering or technology, drop out or change majors before graduation. Additionally, of 50 million employed college graduates ages 25 to 64, 37% reported holding a STEM degree, but only 14% worked in a STEM occupation. Clearly, there is a disconnect between STEM education and real-world application. Arts education can serve to bridge this gap.

Arts education is extremely important to a child’s personal and academic development. A comprehensive arts education can develop soft skills such as communication, listening, time management, and problem-solving. These types of skills are indispensable in the professional world.


The role of art and design in STEM has been somewhat neglected over the years. With an increased emphasis on the main pillars of STEM, the arts are often left behind. Studies show that arts education benefits students, particularly in technical fields.

Improved Fine Motor Skills

Art and design can improve a child’s physical development. Students who are actively involved in art and design curriculum are more likely to develop stronger attention to detail and better hand-eye coordination. These fine motor skills are essential for STEM classes and careers. For example, robotics requires a steady hand and noticing small changes.

Enhance Visual Learning

Introducing art projects into a science class can help students better understand scientific concepts. By creating drawings, students can visualize what would normally be a very complex subject. The visual aspect of arts and design can also help students find more enjoyment in their STEM classes.

Boost Creative Thinking

Creativity is a central component of every art and design field. Allowing students to explore their creativity will improve their critical thinking skills. Art and design education help students learn how to think outside the box, which will positively impact their ability to solve complex science or mathematical problems. Creative thinking skills also contribute to innovation and allow students the freedom to explore different paths to a solution.

Higher Academic Achievement

Arts education can serve to improve a student’s academic performance. In a study done by the Americans for the Arts Foundation, high school students who participated in arts or music classes every year scored on average 92 points higher on the SAT than students who only took one year of art classes. The arts allow students not only to unleash their creative side but also to learn transferable skills that will benefit them in other areas of academia.


You may wonder, “what counts as art and design, and how can it be incorporated into STEM education?” The phrase art and design encompasses many activities that could benefit a science-focused education. There are five primary categories of arts education.

Fine Arts

Fine arts typically encompasses classes like drawing, painting, sculpting, or music. Classes like drawing or animation can give students a greater understanding of the physical realm and help them better understand scientific concepts.

Language Arts

This type of art involves the use of language and communication. Language arts education is essential to successful STEM education. Students need skills like collaboration and communication to fully utilize their science, technology, engineering, and math skills.

Manual Arts

Manual arts are arts subjects that are based on the manipulation of physical objects, like architecture or interior design. Manual arts is particularly useful in the engineering field. Students in manual arts courses develop an understanding of how objects move and change in the real world.

Liberal Arts

Liberal arts encompasses some of the more academic disciplines like history, politics, and ethics. Liberal arts courses help students to develop soft skills such as analytic reasoning and written communication. These skills are of increasing importance to future employers and can help students in STEM courses better express their ideas.

Physical Arts

Physical arts have to do with the physical movement of the body, like dance classes. STEM education can benefit from these types of classes because they can allow students to gain a better understanding of movement and physics.

STEM education is extremely important in the modern age. Arts courses are invaluable to students’ development and interaction with the world around them. 21st Century Ed, like 3D design Animation and Sound & Audio Mixing to enhance your student’s STEM education.

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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.