STEM is great, but STEAM adds an “A” for Art and design. While teaching twenty-first century skills, art and design should be integrated with science, technology, engineering and math. Students need to create and design objects that are functional, look good and work in an innovative, elegant way. Adding some scientific resources to incorporate STEAM in art will make learning while creating a natural combination for young artists.
Throughout my years of teaching, I have been offering more and more choice within art lessons, so TAB is a natural extension. I also believe that children need a place to be able to create, explore, solve problems and succeed. I am excited to see how my students will flourish and grow as artists and problem solvers during this school year.
Why try to compartmentalize disciplines when they overlap and complement each other?
Last month, I attended a symposium at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum called “Full Steam Ahead” with two colleagues. I got a fabulous idea for adding STEAMy resources to the art studio for my students from a session by Neal Overstrom, the director the Nature Lab at the Rhode Island School of Design. The Nature Lab is a natural science collection and lending library where students have hands-on access to specimens such as shells, taxidermy animals and skeletons. There are also live plants and animals to support visual inquiry into biological and natural sciences. There are almost 80,000 individual specimens in the collection.
- Insects – how about some real specimens?
- Animals – realistic plastic toys, I have some in the cellar (Don’t tell my son!)
- Photos of animals, plants, etc – I have collected old books for this purpose.
- Leaves – it is fall in New England, that one is easy! (Just collect some :)
- Gourds, fruits and vegetables – the art room has these already.
- Feathers – I’ll need to find some clean, natural feathers
- Bones – I have a Mr. Thrifty skeleton already!
Students love the plastic fruits, vegetables and gourds. Imagine for a moment, twenty children setting up their own small still life at the same time! It is really something. Mr. Thrifty, the skeleton, will make his appearance this week. I wonder how the students will react to him. Some of the other items I plan to ask for in a grant from our local learning foundation.
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This blog was first posted on Education Closet, October, 2016