The fine arts are a rich source of culture for students—but why limit art to simply that? Instead, you can utilize the power of technology to take art out of the box and bring math, science, engineering, history and more to life in your classroom! Here are four STEAM projects we love.
1. Picasso Faces
Pablo Picasso originated a style of painting called Cubism, which began in France in 1907. The cubists painted figures composed of geometric shapes—cubes, cylinders, cones, and more— that looked as if they’d been cut up and glued back together. Try displaying a Picasso painting, such as Picasso’s Las Meninas, on the interactive whiteboard, and inviting students to come up and trace over the shapes and angles (hello, Geometry) that they see. Next, have students construct their own cubist portraits of classmates by piecing together interactive shapes; visit the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives to play with ideas!
2. Twisting and Turning
Alexander Calder was an American sculptor who is credited with inventing the mobile, which is a structure that dangles from above and whose parts move and balance together in harmony. Share images of some of Calder’s hanging mobiles with students. Then have student pairs work together to map out a plan for their own mobile—yep, that’s physics—and then display their plans through the document camera or projector, and have kids vote (using a Student Response System) on whether they think each mobile will balance properly or not.
3. Mirrored Mapping
M.C. Escher was a Dutch graphic artist who explored concepts like math, perspective, and engineering through his art. Escher loved studying how perspective can tweak or evolve—and often used spherical balls or warped mirrors to adjust the way things looked. Share Escher’s drawing “Hand with Reflective Sphere” on your projector and then discuss how his perspective changed when he looked into the sphere. Then, have your students look at the room through various mirrors including mirrored balls, panes of glass, and magnifying mirrors—a study in perspective—and then draw the classroom in a new way. Display their masterpieces side-by-side on the interactive whiteboard and discuss the varying perspectives students saw of the same room.
Let There be Color
Michaelangelo Carravagio was an Italian Renaissance painter who studied how light and darkness interact in the world. And, as he studied light, he realized that color is more than just a decoration. It’s a way that light is perceived in the world. After using your projector to look at several of Carravagio’s paintings, discuss how light changes color. Then—here’s where science comes in—manipulate light and color in your classroom by covering the bulb on your document camera with a piece of colored cloth. Place various objects under the camera and discuss how each object’s appearance changes depending on the color of the light.
Looking for more STEAM projects? If you have access to a 3D printer, check these out.