Note: This post is sponsored by, and written in collaboration with, Maize Virtual Prep School.
With the growing emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, The Arts, and Math) education, parents may be feeling a bit intimidated with the integrated approach to learning. By participating in enrichment activities in the community, you can easily add to your student’s STEAM experience.
Below are steps to building a STEAM activity and how MVPS has recently applied those steps to enrichment activities that are culminating in a field trip this Spring to explore the DaVinci exhibit at Union Station.
1. Choose a topic or theme.
Exploring the DaVinci Exhibit in our area is a unique opportunity to study and experience DaVinci’s drawings, designs, and inventions. This lends itself to developing STEAM learning projects.
2. Start with small projects.
In order to help students understand STEAM, we started by creating a series of hands-on projects and experiences that will build upon themselves. The first project was a simple activity involving understanding technology, known as “Technology in a Bag.” Students were placed in small groups and given an item to investigate and discuss (this activity can be done with everyday household objects). Discovery includes explaining why the item was developed, the materials used to construct it, possible uses (other than the traditional use), and ways to improve it. Through this process, students realize the meaning of technology — anything designed by humans to help solve a problem, and engineering — using creativity and knowledge of math and science to design things that solve problems.
3. Implement the use of journals and sketches.
Just like DaVinci, the Maize students were provided a two-part journal to promote the use of writing and drawing what they learn in our STEAM activities. With the discussion of DaVinci’s design work and recordings in his extensive journals, students can be directed to create their own inventions and/or designs. At this point, students are also taught the method of labeling scientific drawings using the acronym ABCD. A: accurate; B: big; C: colorful; D: detailed. Creating scientific drawings encourages observation skills and technical drawing.
4. Make something creative and cool!
The Maize students will be designing their very own gnome and fairy houses at a local art studio. The artist will share the science of firing clay projects, provide instruction on measuring and designing a structure, and then promote creativity through artistic paintings. The students will integrate math, engineering, science and art into this one project.
5. Visit an exhibit.
To round out this learning experience, the Maize students will be visiting the DaVinci exhibit at Union Station next month. No DaVinci exhibit near you? Consider a virtual field trip or visit a local artist or engineer. For the Maize students, the exhibit will allow them see how DaVinci exemplifies the entire STEAM process. They will realize that they, too, can be creative and experience each area of STEAM in their learning.
The key to success in developing each area of STEAM learning is being intentional and consistent in providing learning activities.
Maize Virtual Preparatory School (MVPS) is a tuition-free virtual school offering the world-renowned Calvert curriculum for grades K-8. Discover what MVPS has to offer by attending one of our events or online info sessions and find out if a virtual education might be the right fit for your child.
“Creative genius is something people tend to romanticize, but the reality is not very romantic at all. Like any skill, it takes practice and effort.”
―Dave Burgess, Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator
About the author: Suzanne Wandling serves as Outreach Coordinator for the Maize Virtual Preparatory School (MVPS).