Friday, March 18, 2016

Five Ways to Add STEAM to Your Science Class!

Happy Friday STEM and Science Friends.... and maybe STEAM Friends!
I do find occasionally that the design part of STEM just naturally turns into art work. Today's post is all about some particular things we have tackled that just work great as art tasks- maybe with some math or science thrown in!

STEM Challenges that turn into STEAM- Here are five ways your can add some art to your STEM and science classes!
So, let's take a look at how you can add some art to your science and math classes!

This is a terrific little project I have been completing with kids for a really long time. I call them kaleidoscopes. The finished product is a great review and/or use of symmetry and geometry!.
STEAM Activity: Kids draw one shape and then trace it seven times to form a symmetrical figure. Color it with bright colors and you have a kaleidoscope!
Kids start with a blank piece of paper and fold it into a triangle. They draw a design on one triangle and then open the paper and fold it in half. The half sheet is placed on a window so you can use the light to see through the paper. Then the kids trace one triangular space at a time. If they connect their lines carefully all the triangles are joined into a symmetrical drawing. Next, they use bright colors to finish the design. You can read more about this right {HERE} and this post has complete directions for how to make these. They turn out spectacular!

One day last spring I came across a stash of clay in gorgeous colors and this is what we did with it.
Kids picked a random card telling them what to sculpt and then they could pick the clay colors they thought would form the sculpture.
STEAM Activity: Give kids an randomly chosen card telling them what to sculpt. They must choose the colors for that given task and then make it!

Aren't these fabulous? The good thing about clay is that it doesn't dry out so we were able to recycle the sculptures when they began to fall over. Great little artists!

This is one of my favorite long term projects we do in the STEM Lab. It takes three to four weeks to complete! Kids form large groups and the task is to create a food delivery company.
Teams within each group have different jobs. One team designs the delivery box. Look at some of these in the photo below!
STEAM meets STEM in this fabulous design challenge as students create a food delivery company, design delivery boxes, posters, and create a commercial.
The food delivery company in the top left is the Freaky Fast Potatoes. Then you have the Hot Pink Potatoes on the right and at the bottom is Potato Express!
The box team must design a box that protects the food product and keeps it hot. So, we actually cook baked potatoes and test them with thermometers. Pretty cool stuff!
Another team within the group must design billboards for the company. Check out the one just below that even has an Instagram account!
STEAM meets STEM in this fabulous design challenge as students create a food delivery company, design delivery boxes, posters, and create a commercial.
In the end the third team within the group has written a script and the entire group must perform a commercial for the food delivery company! Lots of artwork going on in this challenge!

My fourth graders LOVE this Area and design challenge. It's all about designing your dream house.
STEAM Challenge: Design your dream house using graph paper and a great imagination!
Let me say this quickly: I did not invent this activity. I will share with you in just a few more words where you can grab this- FOR FREE!

Step-by-step----- 1) Draw the outline of your dream house.  2) Fill in the inside walls, making sure all walls meet at right angles.  3) Give each room a name and be creative! Color them, too! 4) Calculate the area of each room by listing them all on your data table and then calculate the area of your entire house.

Y'all this is the most fun! The kids love it. But, here's where some real learning takes place. If each square on the grid paper is a square foot, then their final houses are less than 600 square feet in size! So,all those kids that made indoor swimming pools, Starbucks, shopping malls, and Disney World are really having an eye-opening moment. Especially when I tell them the square footage of our STEM lab- which is 1500 square feet.
Their little faces are so perplexed when they realize their entire house will fit inside the lab.
Of course, then we have a discussion about scale and they are very encouraged to learn that the grid paper squares could represent square yards, or 6 foot squares!
Okay, here is where you can grab this really fun little activity:
A little STEAM challenge in the lab- Design your dream house and calculate its area! Fabulous FREEBIE by Blair Turner!
It's by Blair Turner and you can click on the image or {HERE} to grab this!

So, one day right about Christmas time I knew a room full of excited little third graders would be coming soon for a STEM event. However, I knew they were too excited about Santa and parties and gifts and reindeer for our normal class, so I threw together a little building activity I call STEM Buffet.
And it just happened to use a material I have 10 shoe boxes full of.....LEGO!
STEAM Challenge: It's called STEM Buffet! Give each group and box of LEGO and a card telling them what to build. Work for 5 minutes, share, and then rotate to a new box and new task! Great fun and perfect for a sub day!
I could have made this a free build time, but I decided to make it interesting. I made a little index card for each table telling the group at that table what to build! Since it was almost Christmas I made all the cards have a Christmas theme- like Build Santa's Workshop, Build a house with lights, Build a house decorated for Christmas, Build Santa's sleigh, and so on.
The kids came in, opened their box of LEGO, grabbed the card, and set out to build whatever the card said. After 6 minutes each group shared, took apart their creation, and rotated to the next table.
Try it and it doesn't have to be related to Christmas at all. It gives your little sculptural, artistic architects a fun way to show off!

Have a great weekend ya'll!
And go visit Doodlebugs Teaching for more Five for Fridays posts


  1. Do you have plans for the food project?

    1. Hi Heidi! Thanks for your interest! You can find the Food Delivery Company project right here:

      Thanks again!

  2. Oh how I wish I had the Legos that you have! I think I'll put out an all call from my parents. There has to be boxes of Legos languishing in dark closests out there. LOL! Seriously, my kiddos (6th graders) would go gaga over a STEM like that!



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