I have a question and I need you to be honest, teacher friends. Can you really step back and let your students experiment and create? Do you find it any easier to step back and allow your students to identify and solve their own problems?
We all know that the National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are process-based so in my choice-based art room, students create their own original art, ask and answer many of their own questions. Across many of our new teaching standards: ELA, math, science, the arts, teachers are asked to change their behaviors in the classroom.
One of my favorite visual art/science/engineering STEAM lessons Art Bot creation. Everyone loves a challenge! This lesson is geared towards third to fifth grades, but it can be adjusted for any age.
- Pool noodles, cut into 6-8” pieces
- Dr. Fresh battery-operated toothbrushes (I buy them at a discount store for $1.50 each)
- Extra AA Batteries
- Thin water-based markers, at least 3 or 4 per student
- Rubber bands
- Masking tape
- Assorted craft supplies to decorate Art Bots: wiggle eyes, pipe cleaners, feathers, pom poms, etc.
- Tacky glue or hot glue
- Wide roll of paper to cover tables
- Canoodle pool noodle cutters
To practice 21st Century Skills, students need hands-on experience. During this lesson, students will use a variety of these skills: critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation.
Start this lesson with students brainstorming ideas about how they would create a drawing machine. Then, show students this short video of a robot that draws.
Share with students that they will use a pool noodle piece for their bot’s body, a toothbrush motor and other supplies. Show how to use a Canoodle to cut pool noodle pieces.
Encourage students to get their Art Bot moving and drawing FIRST before decorating it. Students will solve problems along the way. Have students share their discoveries with each other if the class needs more direction.
Once most of the students have their Art Bots moving, gather students to see if there are any inventors who can show how they changed the drawing path of their bot. Have those students demonstrate for the class.
Students will complete a self-assessment. Create an assessment that includes:
- Student written reflection on their creation of their Art Bot including problem-solving strategies used.
- Written reflection on what they would change (if anything) to make their Art Bot work better, and why.
- A sketch of their Art Bot
- A sketch of their Art Bot’s most interesting path
Amy Traggianese is an elementary visual arts educator and has been an art essentialist at a Connecticut Higher Order Thinking (HOT) School since 2001. A former kindergarten and first grade teacher, she has 30 years of arts integration experience. Amy specializes in integrating language arts, math, science and technology into the art curriculum. She presents at local and national conferences. Amy is an active educator voice on Facebook and Twitter, loves a good Twitter chat, and connects with other educators through social media.