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STEM Students and Music
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93 percent of the STEM graduates reported musical training at some point in their lives, as compared to only 34 percent of average adults

Good news for parents: Those pricey piano lessons or random toy parts littering your floors may one day lead to the next scientific breakthrough.

That's according to new Michigan State University research linking childhood participation in arts and crafts activities to patents generated and businesses launched as adults.

children playing violin

In the study, which is published in the most recent edition of the journal Economic Development Quarterly, the researchers defined "childhood" as up to 14 years old.

The team of multidisciplinary researchers studied a group of MSU Honors College graduates from 1990 to 1995 who majored in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, or STEM. They found of that group, those who own businesses or patents received up to eight times more exposure to the arts as children than the general public.

"The most interesting finding was the importance of sustained participation in those activities," said Rex LaMore, director of MSU's Center for Community and Economic Development. "If you started as a young child and continued in your adult years............

Conclusion:

The results of the study could be crucial to rebuilding the U.S. economy, the researchers said.

"Inventors are more likely to create high-growth, high-paying jobs in our state, and that's the kind of target we think we should be looking for," LaMore said. "So we better think about how we support artistic capacity, as well as science and math activity, so that we have these outcomes."

In addition to LaMore and Roraback, the research team included Robert Root-Bernstein, professor of physiology; John Schweitzer, professor in the Center for Community and Economic Development; James Lawton, professor of sculpture; two undergraduate students and one graduate student.

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Abstract Info

Arts and Crafts

Critical to Economic Innovation

Abstract

Governments, schools, and other nonprofit organizations are engaged in critical budget decisions that may affect our economic development success. The assumption is that arts and crafts are dispensable extras. Research suggests, however, that disposing of arts and crafts may have negative consequences for the country’s ability to produce innovative scientists and engineers who invent patentable products and found new companies. A study of Michigan State University Honors College science and technology graduates (1990-1995) yielded four striking results: (a) graduates majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects are far more likely to have extensive arts and crafts skills than the average American; (b) arts and crafts experiences are significantly correlated with producing patentable inventions and founding new companies; (c) the majority believe that their innovative ability is stimulated by their arts and crafts knowledge; and (d) lifelong participation and exposure in the arts and crafts yields the most significant impacts for innovators and entrepreneurs.


 
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