When it comes to using STEAM in high school, it can be easy to think of robotics and technology as the encompassing factors. But there are so many opportunities to integrate science and the arts at the secondary level! One way that I have found to be extremely effective is through chemistry STEAM lesson. The compounds and reactions found in chemistry can make a very natural link with visual art in particular.
As an example, today we’re featuring an egg tempera chemistry STEAM lesson plan designed for grades 9-11. Painting with egg tempera dates back to early Egyptian times but became very popular in the Renaissance. This high school chemistry STEAM lesson plan provides opportunities for students to study how artists used egg tempera over the course of history and how the chemical compounds found in egg tempera effect those paintings over time.
USE OF CONTEMPORARY ART
There are several elements to this lesson that stand out. First up is that students actually begin their study with a contemporary artist, Fred Wessel, who uses egg tempera today as his medium. So often we miss the opportunity to feature contemporary artists when looking at ancient art techniques! This provides a sort of “grounding” in art today as well as honoring the art of the past.
One of the hallmarks of a STEAM lesson is that it is intentionally connected to inquiry and exploration. It’s not purely about the connection, but also the discovery. This lesson provides that as students continually investigate how the chemistry of each tempera variation effects the end artistic result and how that then influences the artists themselves.
Lastly, the chemistry lesson plan provides a rare opportunity for students in a chemistry class to not only set up and move through an experiment but to then use that experiment to create a very real product in art. This offers a “full loop” for students to investigate, apply, evaluate and create through both chemistry and visual art.