Arts and Crafts Activities Contribute to Future Scientists and Entrepreneurs

Researchers at Michigan State University have found that arts and crafts activities help children develop creative ways of thinking and significantly correlate with children’s success in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.

The findings, published in Economic Development Quarterly, reveal many STEM professionals participate in formal and informal arts and crafts hobbies at a much higher rate compared to the general public. Researchers also conclude that arts
and crafts significantly correlate with STEM professionals’ success at producing economically valuable products, such as patentable inventions, forming
new companies, and other goods.

To test this art-STEM/economic development connection, researchers examined Honor College graduates from the years 1990 to 1995 of the Artsmarts department at Michigan State University. These individuals also majored in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Eighty-two individuals completed surveys regarding their art experiences and current careers. Participants’ art experiences were assessed during three life phases: childhood, young adult, and mature adult. 

The survey included a list of 23 arts and crafts, which ranged from photography, painting, metalwork, fiction writing, and so forth. Participants reported their involvement with said hobbies during each life phase, and what type of training they had for each activity, such as private lessons, training in school, mentoring, or self-teaching.

Researchers then explored the connection between the STEM graduates’ hobbies and their impact on economic development, or “creative capital.” The results showed that individuals who produce creative capital as adults are more likely to partake in one or more arts and crafts activities throughout their lives. This finding suggests that long-term involvement in creative processes may enhance problem-solving skills and foster out-of-the-box thinking. 

In fact, the group as a whole credited their arts and crafts hobbies to creative ways of thinking that are critical to their professional problem-solving activities. Additionally, musical training appeared to be of utmost importance, as researchers found 93% of the STEM graduates reported involvement in musical training at some point in their lives, compared to 34% of average adults. 

StepUp Summary

Researchers found that arts and crafts activities, including music, significantly correlated with children’s success in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, suggesting that long-term involvement in creative processes may enhance problem-solving skills and foster out-of-the-box thinking.   

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