Art may at first seem in opposition to logical pursuits like mathematics and engineering, but innovation comes from inspiration and creativity. Sometimes art can even help scientists see possibilities that seem absolutely illogical. Integrating art into STEM education opens doorways that allow inspiration and connections to come through. It can just be fun for student too. How can you use STEAM activities in your classroom? Check out some of our STEM Tuesday books for this month and try these activities with your students.
The Science and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci by Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan and Micah Rauch
With a mix of invention, experimentation, and art, Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest thinkers of all time, gave the world a number of new insights into science, engineering, and much more. With STEM activities and questions to think about, this book encourages children to look at our world in a deeper and more connected way.
DaVinci created a machine to help artists accurately portray perspective in a scene. He called it a Perspectograph. Have students create their own simple Perspectographs (and use them to make art) with this activity!
What you’ll need:
- acetate sheets
- eye patch or scarf
- white paper
- paint or colored pencils
- Fist tape the acetate sheet to a window. Put a chair in front of the window. Place the back towards the window.
- Then cover one eye with an eye patch or scarf. Sit on the chair so that you face the window. Now put your chin on the chair back and keep still.
- Trace what you see outside onto the acetate sheet. Do not move your head.
- Next, tape a piece of white paper over the acetate. Trace the drawing onto the paper.
- Color the picture with paint or colored pencils. Make sure to look outside toes the true colors of distant objects. They are darker than closer objects appear.
Folding Tech: Using Origami and Nature to Revolutionize Technology by Karen Latchana Kenney
Origami, the ancient art of paper-folding is increasingly being used to stunning effects to solve some of the most pressing problems in the world today. This book takes a look at all those technologies that use folding – proteins, space probes, self-assembling robots, and many more.
There are so many interesting activities available that combine math and origami already, so I thought I’d list a few here for you to try.
- Paper Magic, Folding Polygons: https://www.stem.org.uk/resources/elibrary/resource/33270/paper-magic-folding-polygons
- Mathigon, Origami Axioms: https://mathigon.org/course/euclidean-geometry/origami
- Stanford Development and Research in Early Math Education, Math with Paper: Fold Some Math into Your Day! https://dreme.stanford.edu/news/math-paper-fold-some-math-your-day
Inside In: X-Rays of Nature’s Hidden World by Jan Paul Schutten and Arie Van ‘t Riet
Who knew X-rays could be so jaw-droppingly beautiful! Using amazing X-ray photographs, this book shows us creatures and their natural habitats in unique ways. This book is a perfect blend of science and art.
Leaf prints can help you see the engineering inside a leaf. They reveal the structure of its veins and midrib. Try this activity to reveal the insides of a leaf.
What you’ll need:
- various kinds of leaves
- rolling pin
- Place the leaf on a table with its back side facing you.
- Now color the back side of the leaf.
- Carefully turn the leaf over and place it on a piece of paper.
- Slowly roll the rolling pin over the leaf one time. Do not let the leaf move.
- Remove the leaf to see your print below. Can you identify parts of the leaf’s structure.
These are just a few STEAM activities to try in your classroom. Find inspiration for other ideas by reading all of the books on this month’s reading list!
Karen Latchana Kenney loves to write books about animals, and looks for them wherever she goes—from leafcutter ants trailing through the Amazon rain forest in Guyana, where she was born, to puffins in cliff-side burrows on the Irish island of Skellig Michael. She especially enjoys creating books about nature, biodiversity, conservation, and groundbreaking scientific discoveries—but also writes about civil rights, astronomy, historical moments, and many other topics. Visit her at https://latchanakenney.wordpress.com.