My teaching friend, Becky Granatini, and I had the incredible good fortune of attending a three day STEAM Institute (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) offered by Jeff Mehigan, Leslie Kennedy, and Magdalena Rabidou of the Museum of Science in Boston. Becky and I applied for the Institute because we were interested in learning how to integrate “E”(engineering) in our lessons, but we left the Institute learning that if you are already integrating the Arts or Sciences in your lessons, you are most likely including Engineering and Math ideas! Technology also fits well with these ideas once you realize that the true definition of technology is “any human made object that will solve a problem”. Technology is not necessarily the plugged in hardware that we think about when we hear the word technology. All of these subjects easily overlap each other, and when you collaborate with the specialists in your building, it is exciting to reshape lessons into STEAM opportunities.
Our days at the Museum of Science in Boston were packed full of mini-field trips, guest speakers, learning activities, and sharing experiences.
Through all of this learning, I realized that there is a sense of freedom that comes with a STEAM lesson because there is no wrong way of doing any given lesson! What an exhilarating feeling for anyone who is trying something for the first time! I can only imagine children “leaning in” with STEAM lessons knowing that every idea is worthwhile and can be explored further. Because this notion is so exciting, I am going to look at all of my lessons through the eyes of a STEAM facilitator and watch our library media center turn into a think tank that demonstrates student engagement and fuels creative ideas!
Description of STEAM by the STEAM Institute
- Embracing Creativity
- Cross Disciplinary Approaches
- Experiential Learning
- Real World Content
- Expressing Understanding
Expressing Understanding Activity
We participated in an activity where we played a movement “listening” game of Telephone Charades. Try this game along with the book “Telephone” by Mac Barnett.
Here is how you play Telephone Charades:
- Have students group into 3 vertical lines.
- Give the last person in each line an action to dramatize like “Making Pancakes” or “Make a snowman”.
- The person with the phrase taps the shoulder of the person ahead of them and plays a game of charades by acting out the phrase.
- The person that watched the charades then taps the person’s shoulder ahead of them and acts out what they saw being portrayed.
- This continues down the line until the person in the front of the line says out loud what they think the phrase is.
Scientists are Artists Activity
We also participated in a Nature Journaling activity that was such a peaceful and cathartic lesson! We started the activity by picking out an object that spoke to us, and we learned how to use contour lines to draw the object without looking at our paper. As I was drawing the feather I had chosen and noticing every detail about the feather, I was reminded of the story “Me…Jane” by Patrick McDonnell.
In this beautiful picture book about young Jane Goodall, Jane is shown doing the very same thing we were doing, nature journaling! How wonderful would it be to share this book with children and show them that scientists are artists!
My Favorite Spot
We spent some time in the Computer Clubhouse which is a collaborative, open space for young adults to create digital productions, artwork, and music. The space itself invites free creativity, exploration, and collaboration using different technology platforms and artist tools. There is even a music studio available to explore! If I lived in Boston, this is where I would be every afternoon!
I am so thankful for the experience I had at the Boston Museum of Science and look forward to sharing more stories of STEAM experiences!