How the Arts transform STEM to STEAM at Fort Pierce Central High School
A classroom is more than four walls with tables, chairs, and learners. In a STEAM classroom, an art studio merges with a scientific laboratory. Fort Pierce Central High School Ceramics teacher, Doctoral Candidate, and Medici grant participant, Mrs. Katie Avra and her science collaborator Mrs. Laurie Morales, Honors Biology teacher, use arts-integrated lessons to academically support science achievement and artistic growth. Successful arts integration into STEM is the focus of the four-year federal PDAE Medici Grant in St. Lucie County.
For the second consecutive year, Mrs. Avra’s ceramics students are conducting glaze experiments. After creating four clay pendants, students use the scientific method to design their experiment and the Punnett Square to predict glaze pairing outcomes. With the support of Mrs. Morales, Mrs. Avra and her students feel confident in their scientific procedures while validating their experiment results.
As a part of the Medici grant, Mrs. Avra has repeated the glaze experiment with students to test its reliability. Upon conclusion, Mrs. Morales and Mrs. Avra analyze student achievement data to compare student success rates with arts integrated science students as opposed to science students without arts integration. Mrs. Ayesha Boria, Assistant Principal at Fort Pierce Central High School, observed arts-integrated students digging deeper into Biology Unit 7: Genetics and Heredity. Students interacted with Nearpod, planning their glaze experiment, forming their hypotheses, and diagraming each Punnett Square to predict glaze combination outcomes. “Observing students in the art room cover in-depth science content, refreshed my own understanding of genetics and heredity. I learned how extensively art supports science in the art room. Looking forward, using art to support science should be used through-out our school”-Mrs. Boria.
Mrs. Avra and Mrs. Morales agree. Art and science are not separate. Creative-thinking, diverse problem-solving, experimental design, and critical analysis flow freely from students’ art aprons to their lab coats. By 2030, it is estimated that 85% of jobs for current K-12 students, have not been invented (Institute for the Future, 2019). Students are no longer expected to merely ask the big questions for the future but to solve them using collaborative 21st century skills like those taught fluidly and seamlessly. Let the brain fog disappear as we proceed—full STEAM AHEAD!
Institute for the Future. (2019). Future of work: Forecasting emerging technologies’ impact in the next era of human-machine partnerships. Dell Technologies. https://www.iftf.org/realizing2030-futureofwork/