Like most young children, all I wanted to do in Primary School was to express myself by painting my little heart out. And more often than not, my little heart got heavily crushed on hearing same words: oh, we have Art today but we don’t need that. We’ll do some Maths review. The same thing happened with Music class: No Music today; let’s get ready for the Maths Olympics. Growing up in communist Romania, we were told from an early age what we will grow up to be. And what the country needed was scientists, technicians, engineers or at the very least skilled labourers… definitely not artists or – God forbid – free thinkers.
Do you see yet where this is going?
I was born a rebel – I kept wondering if there was a way to still sneak in some art and protest the maths with colours. My Venn diagrams were the stuff of legends, with colourful butterflies and detailed flowers instead of the classic geometric shapes. Ironically, they always got picked to be on show for open classes. I felt like my point was made and I applied myself to learning – I loved science – especially Physics, Chemistry and Biology, in which I excelled.
Fast forward to present times, it is now proven that incorporating Art into STEM leads to a child developing advanced thinking, problem solving, enhanced social skills, self confidence and the ability of building connection within their community.
As an art educator, I work on daily basis with both main stream and neurodivergent children. I see first hand how art is opening their minds and encourages them to explore everything they can do.
Over the past five years, quite a few of my students shared with me their worries about their school performance, which led to a great dialogue. I always ask them whether they are aware how much they use their maths knowledge when they do art. Most shake their head, unaware that just like in Maths class, we work with shape and form, using concepts, spatial awareness, perspective, scale, measurements, volumes….
As a result, I developed a new series of workshops, incorporating Science into the Art Projects. I’m passionate about offering my students the opportunity of a layered learning, blurring the lines between all the different disciplines and creating a deeper understanding of our surrounding world. I think what really makes a STEAM workshop different is the fact that it empowers the students to actively seek creative solutions and to explore without being afraid of failure. It’s not just a STEM project, with variables that can be predicted and solutions that can be researched on internet. It is a whole new creative approach, where students can seek, find and express their own solutions to one task.
Some projects I am particular proud of are:
- Anthotypes and Chlorophyll Process: learning how to apply our photosynthesis and vegetal pigments knowledge and creating alternative process photography
- Nature Observation Drawing: using Botany, Maths and Colour Theory
- Integrating Electronic Circuits in Art: learning basic physics; using LEDs, conductive tape and batteries, learning how to close a circuit and incorporate the light into an artwork
- Repurposing recycled laptop screens: learning how to create and use alternative drawing surfaces
- Bees workshops: learning about Australian Native bees, using mathematical, 2D and 3D skills and combining various mediums such as painting, drawing and modelling clay.