Too often, we hear this narrative: Children in the United States are falling behind in math and science, and unless we do something to reverse that trend, the rest of the world may surpass us.
Experts believe that some students are shying away from math and science classes because they are deemed too challenging or because they are discouraged from pursuing an interest that is traditionally dominated by white males. The projected results are eye-catching: By 2018, one report says, there will be a demand for some 8.65 million workers in tech-related jobs but many fewer qualified employees.
Enter STEM, the shorthand term for educational activities that integrate science, technology, engineering, and math. Coined in the early 2000s (a rearranged version of SMET, which didn’t sound nearly as enticing), STEM has become common parlance among educators hoping to interest more students in math and the sciences.
Recently, there’s been a push to expand the acronym to STEAM, with the “A” standing for the Arts. One organization says STEAM takes STEM to the next level: “It allows students to connect their learning in these critical areas together with arts practices, elements, design principles, and standards to provide the whole pallet of learning at their disposal.”
For either approach to work, though, students have to be engaged and inspired.
So let’s start with some inspiration!
Famous Faces Collaborative Poster STEAM Activity
I’ve developed a large poster/banner that features portraits of just a few of the “Famous Faces” of STE(A)M throughout history. It requires a full classroom collaborative effort to color and assemble. It’s a great art activity whose result serves as a constant inspirational reminder that success in STE(A)M can come from all walks of life. The poster features:
- Sally Ride
- Albert Einstein
- George Washington Carver
- Thomas Edison
- Steve Jobs
- Benjamin Franklin
- Leonardo Da Vinci
- Marie Curie
This poster involves a collaborative, group effort involving everyone in the class, but it is as easy as print, color, cut, assemble, and display…and then WOW!
Although gender, religion, and race still present obstacles for some, my Famous Faces of STEM (or STEAM) collaborative poster can help you introduce – or reinforce – the concept of achievement in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math is attainable by anyone.
The poster can be completed by students working individually or in pairs or groups. As with my other “Famous Faces” posters, I provide directions that allow you to use this with any grade level.
Kids love when they figure out what we are making.
…and there is always that engineering mind that loves puzzles that wants to put the poster together!
Pair it with biographical lessons on any of the people represented or with a science or technology unit, and you’ll have the perfect visual component for your STEAM activity (and for your other activities throughout the year) – and one that also speaks to that all-important “A” in STEAM: the arts! Win-win!
Looking for more art integration?
And if you are looking for some help with some engaging STEAM activities that include a big dose of “A” I can help there, too! I have a variety of STEAM projects appropriate for varying grade levels, from PreK through middle school. These include:
- Imaginary Playgrounds (PreK-1st)
- Apple Print Arrays (PreK-1st)
- STEM Brown Bag Art Challenge (2nd-6th)
- 2-Way Life Cycle Agamographs (3rd-6th)
- 3-Way Life Cycle Agamograph Posters (K-3rd)
- iDesign an App (2nd-9th)
- Quadrilateral Nutcrackers (3rd-5th)
- Math Coloring Sheets (1st-6th)
- Telling Time with Salvador Dali (2nd-5th)
There should be something in here for everybody!
Thanks for reading and for making art with your kids.