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Turning STEM into STEAM, Houston Skiers, Into the Woods at Main Street Theater: Houston Matters for Tues., Feb. 11, 2014

We sure do love our acronyms, don’t we? We watch HBO, type LOL, eat PB&J. In education circles, an acronym of choice for some years now has been STEM – a reference to science, technology, engineering and math – four fields of study in which many would like to see the next generation of Americans […]

We sure do love our acronyms, don’t we? We watch HBO, type LOL, eat PB&J. In education circles, an acronym of choice for some years now has been STEM – a reference to science, technology, engineering and math – four fields of study in which many would like to see the next generation of Americans be competitive. The concept is this: if our education policies and the curriculum we develop for kids in elementary and secondary education focuses on these four key areas of study, our students will have knowledge and skills that match the jobs that will be most in demand.

Recently, in some circles, a new letter has joined that acronym – the letter A, for the arts. Some believe we should integrate the arts into these core education efforts – in essence, they want to turn STEM into STEAM. But if STEM education is predicated on matching learning to the jobs available, why throw the arts into the mix?

On this edition of Houston Matters, we’ll ask Rick Olenchak, Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Faculty Affairs at the University of Houston…and Justin Young, a doctoral student in the College of Education at the University of Houston, who has been exploring this question as part of a research project.

Also this hour: there’s a lot of physical activity you can engage in here in Houston. Biking, running, swimming, hiking. Skiing…is harder to come by (which may be what prompted one Houston Matters listener’s suggestion of turning the Astrodome into a giant ski slope). That doesn’t, however, mean there aren’t avid skiers here. With the 2014 Winter Olympics underway, we continue our look at unlikely winter sports enthusiasts in Houston, as Edel Howlin reports on the Space City Ski and Adventure Club.

Plus: This is the final week to head to the Rice Village Playhouse and catch Main Street Theater’s production of Into the Woods. The beloved Stephen Sondheim musical interweaves the telling of several classic fairy tales, like Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Jack and the Beanstalk – stories we all know, and in which the characters live “happily ever after” – at least, they do at intermission. Act Two picks up where the fairy tales leave off, and explores some unintended consequences and moral repercussions, as we learn witches can be right, and giants can be good. Cast member Christina Stroup and director Andrew Ruthven sit down with St. John Flynn from Houston Public Media’s arts and culture unit to discuss this most unusual musical.

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