Advocating for STEAM opportunities this summer in West and SW Michigan

The increasing push for STEAM, versus STEM, programs has been evident in the Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo areas with more organizations targeting STEAM education to prepare future generations for careers in the industries that make up STEAM’D: science, technology, engineering, art, math — and design.

Not to be confused with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), which focuses solely on hard scientific skills, STEAM uses both the hard and soft skills needed to solve problems while encouraging the integration of art.

The Grand Rapids organization That STEAM Space, a community space that houses the high school robotics team That ONE Team – Our Next Engineers as well as other K-8 grade robotics teams targeting students in NE Grand Rapids and surrounding areas. The space offers students hands-on experience and real-world skills in engineering and manufacturing.

“It is important for the youth of today to incorporate and grow STEAM skills as they are seen in every aspect of our lives,” says Caleb Burnaby, team captain of That ONE Team. “Math and science are required in everyday balancing [sic] our checkbooks and cooking in our kitchens.”

Design also plays a strong role in complementing STEAM skills, as Burnaby explains, “Just driving down the road you ride in a car that is engineered for efficiency — the engine alone incorporates science — the logo and body style are designed by artists.”

That STEAM Space also provides mentors to teach kids of all ages video production, photography, graphic design, CAD design, electronics, software programming, powder coating, CNC machining and robot building. Air Zoo, based in Portage, also targets kids of all ages and their families.

Air Zoo is a Smithsonian-affiliated, world-class aerospace and science museum providing a safe and engaging experience for visitors of all ages. With a multi-sensory atmosphere, Air Zoo features more than 100 historic and rare air and space artifacts, full-motion flight simulators and amusement park-style rides.

In partnership with Zoetis, the world’s leading animal health company, Air Zoo is hosting the third annual Summer STEAM Days events that are family-focused with activities, art stations, engineering tables and other hands-on, science-based learning.

Upcoming STEAM-related Events

That ONE Team hosts a STEAM Carnival, summer camps and other events annually for the youth in the community.

Visit for more information on free summer activities for high schoolers and upcoming summer camps offered at $120 each for all age groups.

The remaining 2023 STEAM Days for Air Zoo include:
  • Engineering STEAM Day 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, July 22
  • Aviation STEAM Day and National Aviation Day, Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 19
Visit for additional information about these free events.

From furniture to shoes, from arts to education to even policy creation, design is everywhere you look. Designed in Michigan, a new story series coming out of West Michigan, is devoted to sharing the expansive role design plays in Michigan's past, present and future. It is made possible through the support of Kendall College of Art and Design and Landscape Forms.

Shanika P. Carter is an author, freelance writer, editor, and adjunct communications instructor. She is also the Principal Consultant of The Write Flow & Vibe, LLC (, offering writing, editing, and content development services to a variety of clientele, including fellow authors and businesses. Shanika is the author of the book To Lead or Not to Lead, which was released in 2019.
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