Full STEAM Ahead

Full STEAM Ahead

By: Hayley Johnson

Image result for steam train cartoon


The idea of “STEM” today includes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Imagine if you could add art to this integrated field. Art, in this case, incorporates liberal arts including social studies, language, physical art, fine art, music and design. Adding this creates the new concept of “STEAM”. A growing number of educators are moving toward adding art to STEM. Let’s look at the implications of art in our STEM world as we know it.

The importance of STEM:

-A way to provide students with the building blocks necessary for students to achieve success in an increasingly technical world

-A shift from cramming content to practicing skills that are needed to be technically literate

-Transition to more fluid, student-centered activities

Bridging the gap between art and science:

-Scientist and artist both need to be builders, inventors, and dreamers

-Research has shown a connection between art and science

-Both art and science inspire and demand creative thinking

-Creative processes in art can be utilized to drive innovation, creativity, and effective communication of ideas and findings

How Art Motivates STEM Learning

STEAM in action:

Subject: 7th Grade Biology

Topic: Adaptations for survival

Engage: Present the following piece of artwork by Ryuta Nakajima and give very brief background on the artist. He is an artist who blends his interests in art and science. He has a special interest in cephalopods and the students should complete the first part of a 3-2-1 bridge based solely on this image and the fact that Nakajimas art is supposed to connect art and science.

Image result for Ryuta Nakajima cephalopod

Explore: Show the following video clip and have the students complete the second 3-2-1 bridge and then make connections to their first one. Students will share their ideas and ask questions within groups.

Explain: Then they can research other examples to share with the class that use camouflage as a form of adaptation for survival similar to cephalopods. Students will create a CSI: Color, Symbol, Image to express their current understanding of camouflage or other form of organism adaptations for survival that they have researched.

Elaborate: Whether it stems from their CSI activity or they use a new idea, the students can create a piece of art (drawing, painting, cartoon, 3D model, photograph, etc.) that represents camouflage or any other biological adaptation. Their art can be symbolic or literal depending on their personal connections they made with the concept. The students will present their artwork and describe its unique depiction of the adaptation they chose to represent.

Neat art lesson that integrate science. Students explore the concept of camouflage. Great for second and third grade.camouflage studyPerfect for learning about how animals use camouflage to protect themselves from predators! | Fireflies and Mud PiesImage result for predator mimicry cartoon

Evaluate:  The 3-2-1 bridge activity, CSI activity, and the artwork piece with the presentation can all be used to evaluate the students success and progress in this unit.

STEAM Lessons for Secondary Teachers and Student

More ways to utilize STEAM concepts:


Image result for steam instead of stem

Ending thoughts:

Art does not have to take time out of what we spend with other STEM concepts, but rather add to them and aid in uncovering even more creativity and deeper thinking among our students. This can also be a new pathway for students with interest in art to make more connections and understand science in a new way when they are allowed to explore concepts artistically.

Image result for art and science

“The difference between science and the arts is not that they are different sides of the same coin … or even different parts of the same continuum, but rather, they are manifestations of the same thing. The arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity.” -Mae Jemison


  1. Hayley,

    Your blogs always have the best visual design! Everything flows so well from one thing to the next and the images do such a great job of linking concepts together. Also, your project where you had your students design and draw animals is brilliant. I love the link between science and art here! Great job!


    • Aesa-
      Thank you! I am very familiar with STEM concepts and activities already so I wanted to explore the added concept of art to integrate into the classroom so I think writing this blog helped me learn more as well as my readers! I think there are also so many other ways to incorporate art so I am excited to keep looking into this idea on my own time.

  2. Hayley,
    I love the beginning of your blog post. I’m glad you introduced the topic of STEAM as well as showed how we can “bridge the gap”. I love your activity! It truly captures the art that is produced in the natural world and even incorporates a professional artist that uses the concepts of STEAM in how real life all the time. Your activity is also engaging and really incorporates the theme of your blog. Excellent work!

    • Dillon-
      The idea of STEAM was fairly new to me so I thought it would be great for me to focus my blog on this so I can personally learn more about it’s place in a science classroom. I saw the artist on an online lesson plan while researching and I took it in my own direction by having the students create their won masterpieces to showcase their artistic side while still incorporating a biological concept. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Hayley,
    I really liked that you included such a large emphasis on art. I think this is really important because it gives students a perspective they don’t necessarily always get when specifically looking at science and typical STEM subjects. It is important for students to be exposed to many different perspectives so they are able to form the best possible conclusion or solution. Being able to think through and solve problems from many different perspectives is such and important characteristic and quality to have and instill in students. This post was really well done!

  4. Hayley-
    I really loved your take on this post! When I created my ideas, I looked more at the STEM activities as a whole, but your arguments for why the A is so critical really made sense! Students should be encouraged to pursue ALL careers, and the bridges between science and art really do need to be tied together. Science and engineering and technology all involve some form of art–designing, creating, solving. Art is a huge aspect of STEM, and your post reiterated that well. Good post!

    • Naomi-
      I was starting out with STEM as a whole but then I was intrigued by the idea of STEAM and was curious to find out more about how it incorporates art with other concepts. I realized that it doesn’t have to be a large focus in the science classroom but to try to incorporate it in subtle ways to help unleash some creativity in the science lessons and enhance problem solving skills in students. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Hayley, I love the examples you give in your blog. STEAM is a new concept for teachers that may be hard for some to grasp. Your blog here gives concrete examples of STEAM activities in the classroom which is good for teachers who may not understand how to incorporate it into their classrooms.

    • Tom-
      It was hard for me personally to grasp as well since my mind doesn’t automatically make the connection between art and STEM subjects, so I did some research to really understand it’s importance. There were surprisingly a lot of examples on twitter of classrooms already incorporating STEAM in their classroom which I thought was awesome! Thanks for the comment!

  6. Hayley,
    I really like all the activities you included for this post! I think this is a really fun lesson for everyone to do in class. I also really liked the link you included that gave a resource for different lessons. I was having a lot of difficulty finding different lessons like those so I am so glad you included it! I also really liked all the different twitter posts and pictures you included on this to show the wide spread of STEM!

  7. Hayley,
    I love how much attention you gave to the arts in this blog! Arts and science go hand in hand, especially in STEM careers. Creativity drives science, and the activities you provided in this blog really do inspire creativity.

    • Meghan-
      I now understand more about how arts and science can really come together so I am glad I did a blog post on this. The idea of creativity is so important in young and imaginative minds so this is an amazing way to enhance and showcase the students’ creative ideas and abilities! Thanks for the comment!

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