Breaking The Mold

All semester we’ve been talking about how science and teaching science has been changing.  It’s becoming more visual and engaging, and less memorization and to the books work.  Students aren’t just machines that should be reciting the textbook word for word.  They’re human beings and want to have fun and be creative.

This is where STEAM comes in.  STEAM is a new acronym where art is integrated into STEM.  You have students learn through making, creating, and letting their imaginations run wild.

STEAM may seem new, but it has been around for longer than we could imagine.  Engineering and Architecture have always been combining art and science together.  Biology can been seen as natural art, such as when you view cells through a microscope or even art created from petri dishes in a lab.

Let’s Take a Trip with STEAM in a Classroom

It’s All Attraction


Show the students a metal tube with a few holes on the front so they can see inside.  Drop a small weight inside the tube and watch as it hits the ground.  Next, drop another weight down the tube, but it appears to stop and then slowly drop compared to the other weight.

Ask your students various questions related to what they just saw. Such as:

  • What did you observe?
    • What is your evidence? Make a claim
  • Why did it happen?
  • What are some possible reason for why it happened?


The students will be making magnetic slime.  Not only is it a fun activity for students, but it will also allow them to explore how magnetism works with an amorphous solid (slime).  The students will want to be placed in groups of 3-4 for the activity.

You’ll need:

  • Glue (Any old school glue works (such as Elmer’s))
  • Liquid Starch
  • Bowls for mixing (Disposable will probably be best)
  • Something to mix with
  • Iron-Oxide Powder
  • Neodymium Magnets
  • Disposable Gloves

Students will need to be cautioned ahead of time to not breathe in the iron-oxide powder.  The best way to prevent this is to mix the starch and powder right away before the students start doing the rest.  The students will then add glue and after mixing with the utensil, they will need to mix by hand (disposable gloves are highly recommended, if not students will need to wash their hands immediately after).  Once the slime is made, give each group a neodymium magnet.  Give the students some time to mess around with the magnet and the slime.

Ask them similar questions to before, but relate them specifically to magnetism.  Have students think about the various things they could make by using the slime and magnets.


Have each group or each student complete a CSI: Color, Symbol, Image related to magnetism.  Have them explain why each is related to magnetism and have students share.  Have students use the explanations and what they saw previously to create definitions for repulsion and attraction.  Give students various examples of magnetism and ask them why it is magnetic (both attraction and repulsion).


The students will be asked to research various kinds of magnetism.  They will then use what they learned and ideas to produce something creative with magnetism.  The students could do almost anything, such as making a figure with magnets, creating a small magnetic field that causes repulsion, a propeller that spins through magnetism, etc.  The students must approve their design ahead of time with the teacher to make sure that safety is taken when using magnets and magnetic fields.


The student’s understanding of magnetism will be shown through their explanations in the CSI as well as through their creation during the elaborate section.

More Ways to Incorporate STEAM

STEAM can be used in various ways in the classroom.  It’s a concept that incorporates as many aspects of science and art into one core idea.

While geared more towards younger students, this shows how students could engineer a building that is sturdy and effective.  They could make it in any way that they wanted to design it!

This is another way to do it in a similar concept, but for older students!

Why is Art Important to STEM?

Art is what spawns the creativity for STEM to think outside of the box.  It allows for scientists, teachers, and students to be more creative with the steps that they take to producing new ideas.  STEM has also always incorporated art as I had stated before.  Engineering and architecture requires a form of art to produce functional, practical, and well-designed buildings.  All of biology and chemistry produce art through the imagination and appearances of the natural world.  If we don’t look at the art within STEAM, then we lose a grasp of creativity that we held.


  1. @Aesa
    Thanks! I thought so too. Art and science are so incredibly related, and we never really acknowledge the natural art that is around us all the time. I loved the activity too! It reminded me of the symbiote from Spiderman, which also made me think of the different relationships between animals in Biology.

    Thanks! The magnetic slime was such an interesting idea I hadn’t thought of before, it really gets students thinking about the ways that magnets work. Since most things we magnetize are solid, having something like slime lets students see more about magnets. I wanted to emphasize what art brings to science and how linked they are, even when people think of STEAM as a new concept!

  2. Dillon,

    I enjoyed your blog this week! I think the magnetic slim is a great way to get the students engaged in the learning. I really liked how you wanted them to create something using magnetism. I also really liked how you talked about the importance of art in the classroom. Your pictures and tweets were a great addition to your blog that helped get the concept across. Great job!


  3. Dillon,

    I loved the connections you made between art and science! A lot of people don’t think that the two are similar, but I think the same skills are very important in both! Scientists and artists alike have to be creative and expressive, realizing trends between things and manipulating variables to get things to turn out correctly. Also, that magnetic slime project is way cool! I’m probably going to end up using it. Good work!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.