Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. There is something that is so special about the combination of all of these things that makes wonderful things. Professions in STE(A)M are in high demand in many different fields. It is important to show students that all of these skills are intermixed and can create something new and exciting!

This video shows how closely related science and art can be. No, Van Gogh did not know exactly how turbulence works (no one does), but he was able to paint it which helped scientists study it further.

As many of you may have figured out from my past lesson plans, I am more of a biology geared person. Coming up with a STE(A)M activity related to biology was honestly a really difficult thing for me. As I am writing this, I have been pondering what to do for five days.

So this is where my thinking has gone.

Extracting DNA

  • PROS
    • Really fun
    • Great for showing everything has DNA
  • CONS
    • Cookie cutter
    • Where is the ingenuity of the process? Students are not able to figure out how to extract it or figure out new processes

Build a better animal

  • Quick synopsis on how to do it
    • Have student pick an ecosystem
    • Have students create an animal that is well suited to that ecosystem
    • Have students describe how that animal could come about with evolution
  •  PROS
    • Science (Evolution)
    • Engineering (Students have to figure out how this could happen)
    • Art (Students can illustrate their organism and its adaptations)
  • CONS
    • Technology (Unless you count natural processes and adaptations as technology)
    • Math (not really feasible)

Present trophic levels

  • To be honest, I really liked this one.
  • Quick synopsis on how to do it
    • Have students pick an ecosystem
    • Have students identify the different trophic levels within the ecosystems and the organisms that inhabit that level
    • Have students construct a project of some sort to illustrate the trophic level and the energy transfer within them with the following perameters
      • Must show the math behind the amount of energy being transferred
      • Must be creative in some sort of way
      • Must relate how technology uses energy in similar ways (this is where I struggled)
  • Here are some examples of what they could have done
    • Make a children’s book that shows how energy moves (could be a flap book where the math is hidden under the flap)
    • A board game
    • A piece of art
    • An online simulation/game
    • A movie
    • A song
    • Anything the student wants with teacher approval

Build a better greenhouse

This is the one that really got me thinking. At first I was like “Okay, whatever, greenhouses are cool, but it doesn’t relate to any topics in biology.” Then I remembered our trusty friend photosynthesis and all the cookie cutter labs about ~what kind of light helps plants grow best~

Let us take it one step further!!!

We all know greenhouses are an important part of our agriculture, but what makes them able to grow produce in all conditions? This is something you would have your students explore!

Here is a (brief) 5 E’s lesson plan on how to implement building a better greenhouse!


  • Ask students where they think bananas are grown, you may need to say that they are more of a tropical fruit.
  • Have students read the following article
  • Have students discuss how these bananas are grown there and what makes it possible


  • Do the hole punch lab with students to show that there are gases coming out of the leaves
  • Directions
    • have students use a hole punch to punch holes out of leaves.
    • put the punches in a large syringe and have students create a vacuum that takes the air out
    • students place the punches in a bicarbonate solution
    • students turn on a light above the solution
    • students observe that bubbles start to rise from the leaf disks and the disks eventually rise to the surface


  • From the hole punch lab, have students try to define photosynthesis based on what they saw
    • Ask them what gas was leaving the leaf
    • Ask them what resources the leaf may have needed
  • Try to help them come up with the formula for photosynthesis


    • Have students research what makes a good greenhouse
    • Break them into teams of 3-4 students and have them each pick a role
      • Architect: this team member will be in charge of the majority planning and buying for building the greenhouse. This member is the only one allowed to ask the teacher questions and purchase items for building.
      • Botanist: this team member will be in charge of making sure all requirements for growing are included in the greenhouse environment
      • Construction Manager: This team member will be in charge of the majority of the construction of the greenhouse. Construction members can talk to the construction members of other teams.
      • Exterior designer: this team member is in charge of making sure the greenhouse is visually appealing.
    • Task them with creating the best greenhouse with the materials you provide
      • no, it will not be able to provide the school with fresh greens
      • The greenhouse will be small (large enough to fit 2-3 plants, but small enough that they can stay in your room).
      • Tell students to try and make it visually appealing, something they would want in their backyards
      • Give the students a budget to stay in. Each of the materials you provide will have a “price”
        • do not charge students actual money, just have them deduct it from the budget.
    • You will need to provide them with some materials to help them with their building
      • wood
      • straws
      • hot glue gun and sticks
      • plants and pots
      • lights
      • plastic wrap of different colors
      • Plexiglass
      • Mesh
      • Thermometers
      • Plastic cups
      • Tape
      • Plastic bottles
      • Aluminium foil
      • You can add more materials as you feel necessary, this is just a basic list
  • This activity will help students learn what is important for plant growth and carrying out photosynthis
      • photosynthesis, growth rate, limiting resources
      • greenhouses have been a technological way that we have increased growing seasons and where produce can be grown
      • engineers have to think about how things are grown and how to build things for it to work at its best
    • ART
      • no one wants an eyesore of a greenhouse in their backyard!
    • MATH
      • students will have to measure out dimensions to fit the plants, have to plan a budget with the materials


  • Formatively assess their learning. This lesson plan works on the basic knowledge of photosynthesis, so it is important to check their understanding at this point. This can be done in exit tickets, anonymous polls, and just gauging their comprehension by talking to them.



STE(A)M activities can be easy to find. But USEFUL STE(A)M activities can be hard to come by. These activities should not just be fun time fillers, there needs to be a clear purpose behind them.

Pinterest is a great resource for many things, but when it comes to STEM activities in high school science, they are hard to find.

With some thinking power and a few breakthroughs, a STE(A)M activity can be found for almost any unit of study!


  1. Shay,
    I love the variety of activities you included in your blog! I also appreciate how you listed the pros and cons you see for each activity. For the “Build a Better Animal Activity,” you could consider having students consider rates of mutations to determine how likely it would be that all mutations would occur to build their better animal. The mathematics of it can show that while mutations are happening every day in our bodies, we don’t pass on all mutations to offspring, and not all mutations are beneficial, which is why evolution takes such a long time.

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