Combining Art and STEM for STEAM Class

January 21, 2020 / Andrea Wenger

Hands-on work — whether it’s with art supplies or circuitry — engages students of varied interests in the seventh grade STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) class at Eastern Mennonite School.

The daily course builds — loosely — on concepts covered in the middle school science curriculum. “It’s a great opportunity for all seventh grade students to look at standard curriculum in a unique way,” says teacher Sarah DeBrun Mitch. “It re-exposes them to important concepts and provides space for creativity through hands-on, project-based learning.”

Students who are most energized by the art aspects of the projects, for instance, may spend more time on that. Others, she notes, might take the technological components of a project and build a windmill, for example, when others are building a car.

“I appreciate that the class provides avenues for students with all kinds of interests to get engaged in science and technology,” says Mitch, who earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry with teacher certification from Bucknell University, and a master’s degree in social work from Salem State University.

“As a science teacher, I am interested in engaging all students. As a woman in science, I have particular interest in engaging more girls. Sometimes this means taking a less traditional approach, such as starting an engineering project by connecting it to art or music. Using this approach, I see students gaining confidence with the technological aspects as well.”

Pictured are students working on a solar car kit by the company SunZoon. This particular project is noted to cover skills in science (photovoltaics, force and motion, energy and power), technology (systems, problem solving, social impacts), engineering (technological design, data analysis and prediction, electric power), math (ratios, graphic data and measurements).

Mitch adds the art component, for those who choose to creatively design their parts before assembly.

Other class projects have included paper circuit cards, boat hull designs and coding with music.

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