Nov 25, 2014

STEM as an Art Medium

photo by Michal Zacharzewski,
via RGBstock.com
There's a lot of hubbub about STEM turning into STEAM. There are many variations of this. See which one suits you, your school, and your children:
  • STEM with a little art. For example, make a spaghetti bridge that holds up a certain amount of weight -- now make it pretty. Want to do this with your children? Start with some truss designs (Pittsburgh's Bridge website is a great resource), some spaghetti (the cheaper, the better), and a hot glue gun (school glue works, but hot glue is better). Some champion bridges like the Hoverla 5 are things of beauty.
  • Art eye transforms technology. Art develops a new way of looking at the same old thing. Consider how MoMA Kickstarter's store reinvents modern technology in new ways.
  • Aesthetic goals more than function. Some people look at modern art and say, "I know the artist is trying to say something, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it is." Others say, "I know the artist said something to me, but I don't know how it was done." Art speaks to our soul, and STEM is a medium that some use with mastery, e.g. kinetic sculptures or Strandbeests.
  • Art tells story of STEM. Art can also be the communicator of the wonder and beauty of STEM. That's what the Atomic STEAM Photography Show wants to do in their competition.
  • STEM as a tool for art: Theater set design students can get a lot out of STEM knowledge for planning designs, creating special effects, and building strong and flexible sets. See how they did this at the University of Arizona.
  • Art making the abstract concrete. Creative teachers realize that students need to "see" abstract concepts or hard to see systems. After hearing research about a dance professor who worked with a biology professor to have students dramatize the inner workings of a cell, I used the same idea to help students understand binary adders and why RAM is faster to access than physical disks. Guess my little stint in high school drama helped out my STEM teaching.
~ until next time, Yvonne

Nov 11, 2014

STEM and History: Easy Connections

photo by mimica (mirna sentic),
via RGBstock.com
Several schools ask how they can integrate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) with other content areas like history, English language arts, and even physical education.

Let's start with history: There are a lot of connections of STEM with history, particularly technology. So many countries gained the upper hand with new technological developments: because of advancements of material technologies (like those who mastered ceramics or metal working) or power technologies (like the steam or internal combustion engine). If you're new to STEM but comfortable with history, you can get some ideas for lessons from these resources.:

Inventing America Did you know that the Conestoga wagons, canals, and railroads inventions impacted American economics, social structure, and geography? You can read more about the engineering and technology that impacted American history in this history book.

Connections  A late 70's BBC television show that shows how different developments in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics are connected concepts that lead to key elements in our modern world. Includes snippets of dramatic reenactment and filming of classic inventions such as water clocks, steam engines, and Jacquard looms framed with plucky British storytelling. Great for history buffs and techies, alike.

Low Tech Solutions For those looking to learn from the past, check out this website on how things were done "in the old days" -- the really old days. Information is part of a larger agenda to encourage sustainability from what we used to know how to do.

As always, more resources can be found on the Pinterest (see: Start Seeing STEM board).

~ until next time, Yvonne