Imagine walking into a science classroom and seeing…paintbrushes? And easels? It may seem strange to those of us who grew up memorizing the periodic table and rolling marbles down inclines, but as the STEM to STEAM movement picks up pace, more and more science teachers are integrating art into their science lessons.
Interestingly, the use of art as part of a science curriculum is something that has been done in places like Italy and China for centuries. Mrs. Heather Wallace, a science teacher who has studied in China, told us that she “learned early on that creativity leads to innovation and innovation leads to success in the sciences. Art and science may seem like different disciplines, but when you look at them closely, you see that they are beautifully intertwined.”
So how can science teachers integrate art into their every-day curriculum? It takes some work and some ingenuity, but with a little effort, you can give your students a leg up in science by teaching them to think creatively. To get started, here are a few of our favorite creative STEAM project ideas that integrate the two disciplines.
STEAM Project Ideas for Elementary School
Go on a nature walk and then have your kids recreate the trees they see using paint chips and bark.
Show your kids a basic chemical reaction by making salt watercolor paintings.
Turn your kids into elementary urban planners and let your future engineers plan out their own city and then make a beautiful map to demonstrate what they learned.
Grow your own crystals in class and turn them into crystal rainbows.
STEAM Project Ideas for Middle School
Make magnetic paintings and visually demonstrate to your students how magnetic forces work.
Use marbles and paints to teach students about inclines in your physical science class.
Use baking soda and vinegar to make fizzy color art. Make sure to snap pictures because these masterpieces won’t last.
Visualize energy with these fun artistic renderings that use rubber bands, gems, and googly eyes.
Make thaumatropes, images that shift back and forth so quickly that they appear as one. This is a great way to demonstrate changing processes—the exploding of a volcano, the hatching of an egg, or a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis.
STEAM Project Ideas for High School
Have your biology students recreate the parts of a cell or the parts of the brain using toothpicks, paint, and other craft supplies.
Bring some action into your physics class with pendulum paintings. Watch out! This one could get messy!
Make spiky crystals by creating a chemical reaction with Epsom salts and hot water.