SchoolArts Magazine

March 2018

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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S TEM (science, technology, engi- neering, and math) was a great s tart for an interdisciplinary approach, but adding an "A" for art and design is critical. While teach - ing twenty-first century skills, art a nd design should be integrated with these other subjects. Students need to create and design objects that are functional, look good, and work in an innovative, elegant way. Adding scientific resources in the artroom will make learning more meaningful while creating a natural combination for young artists. STEAM seems to be a hot trend today, and it makes a lot of sense when you look closely at the National Standards for Visual Arts. Students need to use observation and investigation to create art, so adding resources from nature for artistic observation, for example, will help students in art-making. I believe that young learners need to make cross-disciplinary connec - tions through the arts, and that is w hy my artroom became a whole lot STEAM-friendlier this past year. Adding Scientific Specimens The notion of adding scientific specimens to my elementary artroom came from a symposium I attended at at a local art museum. I was inspired by a presentation given by the direc - tor of the Nature Lab at the Rhode I sland School of Design (RISD). The Nature Lab at RISD is a natural sci- ence collection and lending library w here students have hands-on access to specimens such as shells, taxi- dermy animals, and skeletons. There a re live plants and animals to support visual inquiry into biological and natural sciences. Accessing Specimens If college students had hands-on access to natural specimens, then I decided that my students should, too! As budding artists and scientists, young students need to practice care - ful observation. Insect specimens e ncased in clear acrylic immediately popped into my mind; I quickly found out that they are very expensive. After checking with educators I knew online through Twitter and Facebook, I was able to include appropriate sci - entific specimens for a K–5 artroom i n a grant from a local learning foun- dation. After the grant was funded, I c ouldn't wait to have my students use these new scientific resources. Investigating Natural Objects When I unwrapped the large, hairy spiders that measured 3" across, they actually took my breath away. These beautiful and durable specimens in acrylic, perfect for observation, were made specifically for young students. Natural curiosity draws them to the specimens, even if some are a bit afraid to get near them at first. Students touched, magnified, and investigated all of these new resources. Some students drew what they saw, some created models, and others observed more closely with a magnifying glass. Symmetry and patterns were pointed out and inves - tigated. Some students had questions, o thers had exciting finds to share: "What is on this insect's leg?" "Why does that spider have so much hair?" "Mrs. T., Allie and I saw that scor- pion's leg move! Twice!" Engagement from Observation My students see many details of these specimens that are evidenced in their art. Looking at a picture of a The notion of adding scientific specimens to m elementar rtroom came from a s mposium I attended at a local art museum. P O I N T O F V I E W Amy Traggianese STEAM? Yes, Please! CONTINUED ON PAGE 57. 14 MARCH 2018 SchoolArts

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