STEAM in Action: Implementing STEAM in the classroom

The concept of integrating arts into STEM teaching has been gaining momentum in classrooms around the country, as teachers are beginning to adopt the creative, interactive approach of STEAM. Terry Deen, teacher at Kelvin Grove State College in Queensland and 2014 Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Fellow, talks us through his approach and experiences of STEAM in the classroom.

Describe how your students have used littleBits and MaKey MaKey within the classroom

Through the 2013 and 2014 JumpstART program (a middle school art and design excellence program for students in the Brisbane City Cluster) students work through a series of hands-on creative pathways, which culminated in an interactive exhibition. MaKey MaKey played a key role in the development of artworks and in the curatorial process. Students used MaKey MaKey to determine how audiences would engage with their conceptual art artistic outcomes in an interactive rather than passive exchange.

How did the students respond to these toolsets?

Through Kelvin Grove State College’s JumpstART program, students worked in groups to explore the possibilities of MaKey MaKeys. Groups brainstormed configurations of conductive elements and interface design to determine how best to use MaKey MaKey kits as tools for communicating ideas.

Through brainstorming, experimenting and refining their projects, student groups created highly engaging MaKey MaKey installations that broadened perceptions of middle school art events for the students themselves, their families and the broader College community.

How do they connect to areas of the curriculum?

MaKey MaKeys and littleBits are 21st Century learning tools that provide teachers and students with dynamic opportunities to evidence creative and critical thinking across a range of subject disciplines. The tech devices enable teachers to meaningfully engage students in brainstorming, experimentation, prototyping, testing and refining processes that link directly to a range of standards across STEAM education.

Would you recommend littleBits/MaKey as tools for learning to other educators?

I recommend littleBits and MaKey MaKeys as learning tools for educators who are open to learning through risk-taking, collaboration, creativity and immersive interdisciplinary experiences.

Learn more about collaborative and immersive teaching experiences at Creative Lab 2015, a two-day hands-on professional development program aimed at equipping STEM educators with the knowledge and skills to innovate learning through the framework of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics).

Creative Lab is presented by The Cube, Queensland Museum and kuril dhagun, State Library of Queensland.­

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