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Art in STEAM Education

"The greatest scientists are artists as well” - Albert Einstein

There is art in science; Scientific discoveries do not emerge just from the critical and logical thinking of scientists but also from their passion, imagination, intuition and creativity, which are integral aspects of Art as well. Scientists, technology developers, engineers, and mathematicians need to innovate and solve problems creatively. Scientists and engineers try to describe and present the natural world through various means and convey it to others, an aspiration which is not detached from art. For instance, engineers use their scientific knowledge and skills to design a bridge, but they also pay attention to the aesthetic aspect of the bridge as a construct. 

There is science in art; Artists, like scientists, utilize interdisciplinary concepts such as models, scales and patterns to present their view of the world. Scientific knowledge can also trigger a new vision to an artist which can often lead to critical judgement and discussion. 

Students should be exposed to the interdependence of art and STEM through the learning process. The same problem could lead to motivation in both subject domains and different ways of addressing that issue. The use of artistic tools (e.g. 3D modelling with the use of apps) is a way for students to be creative and visually present their knowledge during a science lesson and/or a project. Similarly, the incorporation of scientific processes to art lessons (e.g. mathematic calculations, identification of patterns in nature) can lead to a new view of the goal of artistic expression in relation to nature and humanity. 

 

STEAM Activity Templates

Art can be the leading discipline in a STEAM activity and draw from the rest in numerous ways. In the context of an Art based STEAM activity, the focus may be on Art but still students are expected to learn about scientific principles during the process, practice with Mathematics and learn/work on Technological solutions or Engineering problems related to the subject at hand. To that end, it is essential that such STEAM activities are carried out in collaboration between the Arts teacher and STEM teachers of the school. Below we present two ideas about how such activities can be structured.

 

How to Use the Activity Template?

This document includes 2 templates: “Making Art following scientific research processes” and “Use Art to communicate science in an engaging way”. Both templates have a common first part related to background information. In this first part you can provide basic information about the activity, as well as relations with the other disciplines of STEAM which you can utilize during the implementation. In the second part of each activity the actual steps are described. A brief description of each step is provided to facilitate the design of the activity for that step by describing the process in which you and your students will be engaged in, as well as the related tools to be used.

 

Drawing Art inspiration from STEM

Inspiration to make Art can come from anywhere. In a STEAM activity that focuses on Art, STEM disciplines can be used as inspiration for the students. Relative videos and demonstrations are a good way to start, but hands-on activities are far more powerful. Teachers can choose to do a brief hands-on activity with the students around the subject at hand. Such activities could be a scientific inquiry (experiment) or a hands-on Technology and Engineering project that will help the students learn about the subject at hand and then use it as inspiration for their Art.  To increase students’ appreciation of STEM and help them draw inspiration from it consider the following aspects:

  • Find connections of the subject at hand to real life and students’ everyday life;
  • Encourage students to reflect, zoom-in on the principles, shapes, symmetries involved
  • Help students visualize phenomena and be creative about it.

During the hands-on activities, encourage your students to keep notes on the things that find most interesting or impressive, so they can use them later. Notes could be anything, from noting down a comment about the shape of the tracks of elements in a gas chamber to a short poem inspired by the image of a nebula. Ideas about connections between the science and technology and how ideas can be transformed into art are also important.

To further assist your students in this process you can also do a short reflection session after the hands-on activities. During this session ask students intuitive questions that can stir their imagination and creativity. Questions like ‘What colors/shapes would you use to paint this phenomenon?’, ‘What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about this phenomenon?’ are some examples. Design the questions based on the elements you expect students to use in their Art piece. In a painting for example, the elements could be colors, shapes or type of pigment.

Suggested tools/practices:
Story-telling, Personal geography, mood boards, video making, painting, music, theatre, dance, art
journaling, stand-up comedy


 

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About

POLAR STAR aims to bring together state-of-the-art learning pedagogies and combine them with exciting activities that focus on contemporary science, thus helping teachers to introduce STEAM successfully in their class. At the same time the project will focus on the development of students’ key skills and competences as well as deepening their knowledge of fundamental science principles, increasing their appreciation of science and technology and their role in todays’ societies. POLAR STAR aims to offer an open and innovative training framework to teachers of primary and secondary education which will focus on:

  • Promoting the 'Science as a Whole' concept;
  • Promoting a holistic STEM educational approach;
  • Promote the introduction of contemporary science activities in schools;

 

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