STEAM Concepts

The STEAM Monster Design Challenge is a hands-on project that develops students' understanding of the interconnections between STEM, society, and the natural world—core concepts from the Next Generation Science standards (NGSS). The project engages media, information and technology literacy, and other 21st century skills from the Partnership for 21st Century Standards (P21).

The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences released the Next Generation Science standards (NGSS) which lay out the disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts that students should master in preparation for college and careers. Below are key definitions and core ideas that we pulled from the NGSS that can be investigated while designing a STEAM Monster for the Paseo Project Design Challenge. You can share these core ideas with students to inform their design thinking.

Definitions of Technology, Engineering, and Applications of Science

  • Technology is any modification of the natural world made to fulfill human needs or desires.
  • Engineering is a systematic and often iterative approach to designing objects, processes, and systems to meet human needs and wants.
  • An Application of Science is any use of scientific knowledge for a specific purpose, whether to do more science; to design a product, process, or medical treatment; to develop a new technology; or to predict the impacts of human actions.

 Objective: By exploring the influence of science and technology on society to design a STEAM Monster, students investigate the hidden ecological factors and deepen their understanding. By researching personal, local and global issues and then translating that knowledge into a character that embodies the complexity of our interdependant ecosystem, students develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills. The activity personalizes this scientific investigation through the art making process.

Core Idea ETS1: Engineering Design

ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

 Objective: By following the STEM Design Tool to create a STEAM Monster for the Design Challenge, students will understand the stages of the engineering design process which is transferable to any creation/ production process.

Core Idea ETS2: Links Among Engineering, Technology, Science, and Society

ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology

ETS2.B: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World

 Objective:  By researching possible environmental challenges and cultural expressions of monsters through the STEAM-Wiki, guest speakers and teacher-led activities,  students will develop an understanding of the interconnections of STEM, society, and the natural world.

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Objective: By working in self-directed teams to research, evaluate and design a STEAM Monster for this competition, students gain essential skills necessary to succeed in 21st century life and work environments. Students will apply the 4Cs of the 21st century standard: Critical thinking and problem solving, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity and Innovation.


  • Focuses on 21st century skills, content knowledge, and expertise
  • Builds understanding across and among core subjects and 21st century interdisciplinary themes
  • Emphasizes deep understanding, rather than shallow knowledge
  • Engages students with the real world data, tools, and experts they will encounter in life
  • Allows for multiple measures of mastery

Learning and Innovation Skills
Learning and innovation skills increasingly are being recognized as the skills that separate students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in the 21st century, and those who are not. A focus on creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration is essential to prepare students for the future.

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Communication and Collaboration

Information, Media, and Technology Skills
Today we live in a technology and media-suffused environment with: 1) access to an abundance of information, 2) rapid changes in technology tools, and 3) the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on an unprecedented scale. To be effective in the 21st century, citizens and workers must be able to create, evaluate, and effectively utilize information, media, and technology.

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