Art will meet science in a first for the continent.The annual Open Design Cape Town Festival will host a new symposium on how art, design, maths, science and technology go hand in hand. The symposium, which will take place during the festival in August, will explore a global movement that adds art and design thinking to the traditional Stem (science, technology, engineering, math) subjects – dubbed “Steam”. The 12-day citywide festival aims to explore how creative solutions and sustainable design can benefit South Africa’s economy and society.Suné Stassen, co-founder and festival and programme director of Open Design, says the symposium will explore how value gets added when art and design are integrated with Stem subjects, and how this will help develop a new generation of problem solvers, change makers and African social entrepreneurs. “We need to redesign our education system so that the youth and future generations can confidently participate in, and add value to the economy and our society at large,” she says.The Steam movement looks to encourage the integration of art and design thinking in education, from kindergarten to graduate degree level. “It is a simple fact that adults and kids learn better through rough play. Creative activities and tools related to the subject at hand will create a more conducive and playful environment for learning, which also means that the learning material is far more accessible and interesting to learners. When learning is fun it also creates memorable experiences. No matter if it is a lesson in mathematics or science, to give them the opportunity to experiment and act out in whatever appropriate creative form will not only help them to visualise the content, but will also increase their ability to successfully communicate their ideas and their ability to work closely with their peers and therefore also develop empathy,” Stassen says.The Steam movement also looks to influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation. It is predicted that over the next 35 years, Africa has the potential to grow its $1.3 trillion wealth tenfold, Stassen adds. “This presents significant opportunities, especially for African innovators and entrepreneurs. The South African reality reflects a failing societal ecosystem: Low success rates in schools, children lacking core life skills, too many mediocre businesses and unsustainable practices, not enough skilled workers across many sectors, too few change makers, problem solvers, entrepreneurs, inventors or creative, strategic leaders, and a population that lacks empathy, integrity and an authentic understanding of people. The same is evident in many African countries. “As we move closer to 2020 it is imperative, especially for the youth and workforce of tomorrow, to be ready, equipped and empowered with the correct toolkit to fully participate and be able to add value to the economy and to society. Integrating creative and design thinking skills across all learning areas are vital to also create a more conducive learning environment for all children so that our education system is more inclusive and accessible to all. This is our best shot at providing a solid foundation for every child to make a success of his future career.”V For more information visit www.opendesignct.com.