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STEAM Inspires New Perspectives

By: Art Teacher Erica Spangler

October 30, 2017

STEAM is a buzz word in art education. It refers to adding art and design into the STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The goal is for these subjects to work together and influence innovation among students. It is exciting to see how cross-curricular work can help students make connections, ask good questions and discover more about different subjects.

After seeing a display of artwork at the University of Michigan with the subject matter of scientific cells, I was inspired to see how Rossman’s science and art curriculum could work together to create a STEAM experience using cells and tessellations as our driving forces. As usual, Rossman’s teachers were up for the challenge!

blog_cellart-1.jpgIn science, Mrs. LaConte’s sixth grade students started with a study of different types of cells (plants vs. animal) and the organelles (structures) in each. They learned how to use the compound microscopes and then how to make their own wet mount slides.

blog_cellart-2.jpgNext, they took a sample of the Anacharis plant, created a slide and made detailed drawings of what they saw under each level of magnification. They identified the organelles they could see. The students repeated the process with skin cells after scraping them off the inside of their cheeks and staining them with a dye. They learned that the shape and organization of plant and animal cells also differ and that there are similar and different organelles in each. After creating both sets of slides, they also took pictures with low and high power magnification under the document camera.

blog_cellart-6.jpgThose photographs were the source of student-generated tessellations created in art class. Mr. Holmes taught a math lesson on tessellations to show students the mathematical understating behind tessellations. Mrs. Taylor helped find the best photography apps for the iPads. The apps were used in art class and enabled the students to edit their cell photos and place them into a collage to create a tessellation.

blog_cellart-9.jpgTessellations are repeated patterns. For our tessellations we both flipped the cell images and repeated them. Our art was inspired by the artwork of Ruben Sandoval, a microbiologist working at Indiana University. Initially he just wanted to create an interesting desktop image for his computer, so he began tessellating the cell pictures he was observing for his work.

blog_cellart-7.jpgAlthough the tessellations were beautiful, they also helped scientists to see the cells in a new and different way. They were even able to start to see scientific data they missed by just looking under the microscope. Now, many microbiologists employ this technique in order to look at their research in a new and innovative way.

The idea of tessellations creating new perspectives sparked an interest for Mrs. Brummit as she sought to give students a way to extend this project into their writing. She had them create flipped poems. This type of poetry is first read from top to bottom. Once finished, it is then read from the bottom to the top. Reading the poem from bottom to top flips the perspective of the poem. This was another avenue for students to examine how to create new perspectives.

Rossman students will have different STEAM opportunities as Mrs. LaConte, Ms. Duvall and I work together to discover connections across the curriculum that will enhance student learning. This is a exciting way to implement our Strategic Plan in which envisions Rossman School as the recognized leader in elementary education,  balancing tradition with innovation.

Be sure to check out photos of the sixth graders’ artwork and some of their poetry below.


Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in Creve Coeur, is an independent preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills.​ Request a free Rossman School brochure here

Sixth Grade Flipped Poems

“Flipped”
By Ameer H.

We won
We will never get the chance to say
We played bad
The result was great
You’re lying if you think
We are such and awful team
I don’t understand how
Everybody thinks we’re bad
When we win
There is no point in looking forward to the day
We say
We lost

“Winter Flip Poem”
By Madison S.

Winter
It’s
Horrible
Don’t tell me it’s
Great
or
Amazing
It’s so
Cruel to animals
It’s not
Wonderful
It is
Killing the plants
Killing the animals
Freezing the world
Even if it’s
Beautiful
It is still
Harsh
Not at all
A winter wonderland full of happiness
It’s
Winter

“Chicken”
By Ethan A.

Chicken is awful
I don’t believe
Chicken is tasty
I couldn’t tell you how much I think that
Chicken is awful
I don’t believe that
Chicken is delicious

“Siblings”
By Sophia B.

Siblings are the worst!
You must be insane if you think
They are really kind and helpful
They steal your stuff and break it too!
I won’t believe you if you state
Siblings play with you every day
They are rude and stuck up snobs
You’re lying if you say
Siblings are the best in every way!

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