The BioSTEAM FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page contains answers to questions about the program, the curriculum, as well as more in-depth questions such as the meaning of terms used throughout the curriculum. If you have a question that is not answered here, please email us and we will add to this page. This helps us to expand and improve the FAQ.  Contact:

"STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, math and the arts. STEAM Education is an approach to teaching that uses these disciplines in an integrated way to engage students in the learning/making process.

BioSTEAM is derived from "STEAM (science, technology, engineering, math and the arts), specifically as it applies to "bio"- the study of life, which explores and highlights new interdisciplinary research intersecting with biology such as; quantum biology, bioastrophysics, bionanotechnology, bioacoustics, biophysics and AI (artificial intelligence). Exciting discoveries in these fields are often buried among the headlines, as are diverse ways of understanding nature through the lens of traditional ecological science (native science), arts, humanities and philosophy.  The BioSTEAM program focuses on the relationship between nature and technology, asking students to investigate these exciting new technologies to understand their true impact on nature, as they explore and design the world around them.

Wikipedia definition: Ecological art is an art genre and artistic practice that seeks to preserve, remediate and/or vitalize the life forms, resources and ecology of Earth, by applying the principles of ecosystems to living species and their habitats throughout the lithosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere, including wilderness, rural, suburban and urban locations. It is a distinct genre from Environmental art in that it involves functional ecological systems-restoration, as well as socially engaged, activist, community-based interventions. See full definition here.

We use both of these terms in the BioSTEAM curriculum tool and there are many definitions online that can seem overlapping. Biomimicry, a term credited to Janine Benyus, is a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies found in nature to solve human design challenges. Biomimicry is unique among other bio-inspired design approaches in its emphasis on learning from the capacity of living systems to arrive at sustainable solutions to specific functional challenges. Nature-inspired design is often used interchangeably with biomimicry but it also represents work that could be inspired by nature but not necessarily applied to solving human challenges or often does not address nature's functions and processes inherent in biomimetic thinking.

BioSTEAM is a hybrid program. It allows for both classroom activities and distance learning. For example, citizen science projects can be done at home using a smart phone or computer, or as a classroom project. The design challenge can be an assignment that is done at home using Zoom to assign pages and specific activities chosen by the teacher. Students can even be asked to explore the site on their own and choose the topic and activity that piques their curiosity. As a school project, teachers can integrate the BioSTEAM projects into their standard aligned science and art curriculum.

BioSTEAM is designed for middle and high school students (age 14 - 19) but can also be adapted for younger and older students. It is a a free educational resource that can be used by teachers as needed. The BioSTEAM Youth Corps is designed for ages 14- young adults as it is a service project for after school or summer hours.

Both. The majority of the site is designed for the teacher to understand the methodology and how to integrate it into the classroom or online projects. But the BioSTEAM design tool was designed for student access as well. This section takes students through the stages of the design process for a BioSTEAM project. Older students may be interested in the methodology and concepts behind the projects they are working on.


Wikipedia: Environmental humanities employs humanistic questions about meaning, culture, values, ethics, and responsibilities to address pressing environmental problems. The environmental humanities aim to help bridge traditional divides between the sciences and the humanities, as well as between Western, Eastern, and Indigenous ways of relating to the natural world and the place of humans within it. Read more


The BioSTEAM curriculum tool includes multiple resources from the UNESCO website which define terms and share programs, educational tools and strategies. This is a definition that captures how we are applying the concept in BioSTEAM projects: "Human ecology means that the ecological question is ultimately an ethical question regarding human actions. The ultimate determining factor is the human person. It is not science and technology, or the increasing means of economic and material development, but the human person, and especially groups of persons, communities and nations, freely choosing to face the problems together, who will, determine the future." Source

Research on the skills needed for the 21st century workplace shows that students need these diverse thinking skills. We hear it all the time but what exactly is the difference between analytical thinking, critical thinking and creative thinking? This blog post has a nice simple description and here is the quick breakdown:

Analytical thinking is the act of breaking down complex pieces of information into smaller and more understandable component or principles. It involves systematically dismantling data to decipher facts which can be used to build upon information or provide evidence-based conclusion.

Critical thinking means carefully weighing information or views and interpreting them to make sound independent judgments. It is also cyclical, meaning one can go round and round considering facts to form an opinion, cultivate a conviction, or just determine whether something is valid or makes sense.

Creative thinking is the mental process of bringing something new into existence through imagination. It involves the input of facts and sensory stimuli as well as interpolation and critical reflection to imagine something that does not exist.