Education studies and teaching news at Brighton

Group of student teachers building a bridge structure with STIX

Learning about the importance of STEAM education

Student teachers studying our (Secondary) Art and Design PGCE recently participated in two STEAM workshops to understand why and how art can feature alongside other STEM subjects and to gain a different perspective to inform their own planning of art and design lessons.

STEAM – what’s it all about?

STEAM is used to define a method of teaching that sees five subject areas join together for a more holistic approach to learning:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Arts
  • Maths

The term has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, due to concerns over the lack of creativity in the school curriculum.

During the first workshop, student teachers were introduced to the topic and were encouraged to think about transferable skills with D&T and other areas on the curriculum. They learnt about the importance of STEAM activities including how children respond to practical activities, how it can engage different learners and help manage behaviour in the classroom.

They then took part in an activity to build a bridge or piece of furniture using newspaper STIX that would support a weighted item or person. Student teachers then had to plan and deliver their own workshops which they had to present the following week to a group of 30 pupils visiting from a local school.

One of the teachers who attended from the school said “Thank you for the day you organised, it was such a good day.  All the kids were so happy and had a great time doing the different STEAM activities.”

We spoke to one of our Art PGCE students, Anya to hear more about the workshop they planned:

“I worked with a small group of other art PGCE students on my workshop, we all agreed that we wanted to make sure the pupils did something they probably hadn’t already done in school. We ended up combining some of our ideas, and our activity was split into 3 sections.

STEAM workshop using balls to make paint markings

“First our group of 8 students created a collaborative painting inspired by Jackson Pollock. Then they completed an imaginative drawing and cut paper task, where they cut out various shapes from the painting.

“Finally, we split the group into 2 teams and introduced the main challenge – to use their cut paper shapes to create a balanced hanging mobile inspired by the work of Alexander Calder, with a selection of other materials available to them.

“The two groups took different approaches and it was great to see the students be inquisitive and creative whilst developing their mobiles. The results were brilliant, and it was lovely to see how proud the students were of what they had made whilst presenting it to the rest of the group.

STEAM workshop marble effect paintings on cut out shapesAs a trainee art teacher, it was a great opportunity to see how my art lessons could become more cross-curricular by involving STEM subjects. I hope that trainee teachers of STEM subjects can see the value of incorporating art into their lessons and that STEAM becomes more integrated into schools.”

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Christina Camm • March 15, 2024

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