Skyler Wiseman
STEAM Teacher, Early Childhood

City Academy is a school that has advanced the integration of science, art, and math – along with technology and engineering – to build cross-curricular connections that foster critical, creative thinking. This effort has become known as the STEAM Initiative, an innovative and collaborative approach that extends STEM education to incorporate art, recognizing that many of the skills and principles taught in art are applicable to and enhance what is accomplished in STEM classrooms. The result is a unique STEAM Initiative.

Science, Engineering, Technology, and Art are taught in the STEAM Lab for JK -2nd grades.  The STEAM Team has used the Understanding by Design model to develop enduring understandings and essential questions that purposefully unify the STEAM subjects. All essential questions below promote the inquiry necessary for leading students toward the STEAM curriculum’s eight enduring understandings of critical thought.

…approaching education with a curious mind encourages inquiry, exploration, discovery, and the acquisition of knowledge that leads to understanding and the construction of meaning.

  1. What does it mean to be curious?
  2. What are some advantages of being a curious person?
  3. Why is it so important to ask questions about your environment?
  4. What makes exploring something new or unknown so interesting?
  5. How do we acquire knowledge of our surroundings?

…true confidence comes from an eagerness to learn, the ability to apply knowledge, and the willingness to tackle a challenge.

  1. What does it mean to be confident?
  2. How does someone grow to become confident?
  3. Why would an eagerness to learn be important for building confidence?
  4. How can tackling a challenge build confidence?
  5. What are some possible personal obstacles to tackling a challenging situation?

…problem-solving requires the ability to identify and understand the problem, articulate the problem, develop possible solutions, and manage resources necessary to implement a solution.

  1. What does it mean to be a problem-solver?
  2. What are some important traits of a problem-solver?
  3. What must you know about a problem before you can develop a solution?
  4. What can you do to demonstrate your understanding of a problem?
  5. Why would it be important to develop more than one possible solution?
  6. Why is it important to know the resources you have to solve a problem?


…fostering creativity allows for the expansion of imagination in order to innovate when viewing a problem and developing solutions.

  1. What does it mean to be creative?
  2. What can our imagination be used for?
  3. How can our imagination be used to solve a problem?
  4. What does it mean to be innovative?
  5. How can we come up with new ideas to solve a problem?

…integrating knowledge and skills acquired from various subjects and sources allow for the analysis and interpretation of questions and concerns from many vantage points.

  1. Why is it important to closely examine the details of a question or problem?
  2. What is the advantage of looking at a problem from different vantage points?
  3. What is the difference between knowledge and understanding?
  4. How does knowledge lead to understanding?
  5. What does it mean to integrate knowledge from different subjects?

 …much can be gained from taking risks and making mistake as long as there is a recognition of the learning potential in the experiences encountered.

  1. How does making a mistake cause people to feel?
  2. How can mistakes be an important part of learning?
  3. What can we learn from our mistakes?
  4. What does it mean to take a risk?
  5. What are some advantages and disadvantages of taking a risk?

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