STEAM / Art Integration
I wanna start off by saying that I am in no way an expert in this style of teaching. I believe that teaching art naturally lends itself to a lot of interdisciplinary learning in all sorts of different content. However, I’m gonna discuss a few projects that I do with my students that tie into what they are learning in their classroom. I believe that these are more of an Arts Integration style of teaching than they are STEAM, but my understanding of the differences between these two are a little fuzzy!
Our 3rd graders have a unit on minerals where they learn about them, grow them, and even go on a field trip to a cave where they learn about some of the local minerals.
In the art room, I tied in learning about Karina Eibatova who is a Russian-born artist who makes beautiful watercolors of minerals. We study the different shapes of raw minerals/gems compared to cut stones.
Throughout the project, students draw out a mineral, then they practice mixing tints and shades to fill it in over the next couple classes. Here is a write up of the first time I did the project. The 2nd time I did it, (I forgot to do a write up) I changed it up a bit based on a project I saw on mizzzlee_art on Instagram. You can see our Artsonia gallery of those at: https://www.artsonia.com/teachers/members/projects/artwork.asp?id=1362692
Bugs and Symmetry
I teach this project to 3rd grade, however, it covers some topics that they learn in both 2nd AND 3rd grade. In 2nd grade, they have a big unit on bugs and learn about their different body parts. In 3rd grade, they discuss symmetry in math. I combined these two ideas into a bug symmetry project!
For this project, we take a look at a British photographer named Levon Biss. Levon is a commercial photographer who typically takes pictures of athletes for advertisements. He started a side-project and began taking pictures of bugs in his free-time. I love the bugs because of the incredible amounts of detail and his excellent lighting of the subjects. Levon takes around 8,000-10,000 pictures of a single bug, focusing in on tiny sections of the bug while changing the lighting over and over to get rid of shadows. He then takes all these photos of bug parts and jigsaws them together using computer software. Lastly, he prints these out on HUGE posters! 3rd grade loved looking at these itty bitty creatures and their symmetrical bodies!
In art, we talk about how the bugs have symmetry. This project usually builds off of previous symmetry projects and puts their skills to the test. Throughout their bug collages, we make sure that whatever we do to one side of the bug, we also do to the other.
Here is a write-up to our Levon Biss project from earlier this year.
Damien Hirst Butterflies
This is similar to the Levon Biss project I just discussed. In 2nd grade, students learn all about butterflies and actually raise a butterfly through its stages of metamorphosis.
To tie-in what they are learning about in Science, we study Damien Hirst who has a lot of work using butterflies. Damien has a wide variety of art but we focused on his spin paintings. Hirst has a table that spins in a circular motion. He puts paint onto the table and as it spins, it moves the paint around. Sometimes he takes the spin paintings and then cuts them into new shapes like a butterfly.
For this project, students make spin paintings using the primary colors. As the primary colors spin and mix, they make the secondaries which is a nice refresher for them. The next class they use black paint and paint half of a butterfly on their spin painting before folding it in half. This prints a symmetrical butterfly onto the other side of the spin paintings.
You can read about this awesome project here!
**** BONUS PROJECT!!!
Cai Guo-Qiang and Force
So this is a project that I have NOT done yet but I thought I would let you all in on a little project that I’ve been incubating through these cold Wisconsin months!
Cai Guo-Qiang is a Chinese artist who uses gunpowder to create drawings that are burnt onto his canvases. Videos of his work are quite the sight to behold!
In 3rd grade, students talk about forces and pressures and how things can be pushed and pulled. I thought it would be cool to put small pieces of Alka Seltzer into film canisters with a couple drops of a primary colored liquid watercolor. The water creates a reaction with the Alka Seltzer and begins to build pressure inside the film canister. When the pressure grows to be too much, the cap explodes off with color shooting onto the paper. This would be such a cool and fun way to do some color mixing by exploding the primary colors on top of each other! Here is a youtube video demonstrating the process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WK8X6KMq6k
As I said before, this is a work in progress though. I still need to find out how to go about doing this without exploding paint all over the students! I’ll be sure to let ya’ll know when I find the solution!
This month, The Art Ed Blogger's Network is writing about STEAM/Art Integration. Join us on the first Tuesday each month for new projects, ideas, and inspiration.
Participating Art Teacher Blogs:
Harmony and Consolidated Elementary Art Teacher in Milton, WI. UW-Eau Claire graduate. WAEA President-Elect. Apple Teacher.