The Holographic Quality Of STEAM

dmarinelliGuest Post by Don Marinelli, Ph.D, Co-founder of Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center

Have you ever equated “STEAM” with a “hologram”? It takes a creative thinker like Dr Marinelli to paint this [3D] picture!

A hologram is a photographic recording of a light field, created with a laser rather than a lens, and is used to display a fully three-dimensional image of the holographed subject.

In a holograph, the image is captured and contained within every piece of the holographic plate. If you cut a hologram into a hundred parts, you might think that each individual part will show a separate area of the image, but that’s not the case. With holograms, each of the smaller parts still contains a reflection of the complete, whole, 3-dimensional image.

That’s precisely the case with STEAM education. Each distinctive element of STEAM contains all the other elements. Think about your favorite animated movie, say, FROZEN. That movie, a marvel of animation, a beautiful example of bringing imaginary characters to life and endowing them with human attributes, is impossible to create without science, technology, engineering, and math, all in the service of the intrinsic “art” of the movie.

The science involves anatomy, light, timing, color, physiognomy; the math is manifest in proportion, object relationships, depth perception, cause-and-effect, and other fundamental Newtonian laws. The technology exists in the form of the computers, cameras and lighting used to make and store the movie digits or cells, while the engineering is the projection, audio, 3D and 4D systems, and the actual cinema space where we watch the movie.

We cannot divorce any one of these elements from the experiential whole without detrimental effect.

And yet, we do so in education. Every day. How strange.

STEAM is all around us. A building that is functional and yet impresses us by its design is the result of STEAM. Math is the engineering foundation for the building’s tensile strength, weight bearing stresses, and ability to withstand forces of nature. The building houses myriad technologies both digital (Internet, sensors, monitors), as well as analog (plumbing, conduits, electrical). And, it all comes together as an architectural marvel, an artistic sculpture in the cityscape.

STEAM is a technical way of saying – and promoting – what used to be called “Whole Brain Thinking.” It is the natural bridging of left-brain organizational, systematic thought with right-brain non-linearity and creativity. And, what is truly remarkable is that this form of thinking is an ontological reality for all children. It is manifest in a child’s curiosity and desire to make meaning.

Society has somehow devised the means of educating it out of children.

It is time for that to stop.


Join us for our next live Remake Learning Hangout on March 29th at 2:30 PM EST, STEAM: Bringing the Arts to STEM. We will continue this discussion by providing strategies to bring STEAM education to a classroom near you!


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