Search form

Hands-on Learning Project Ideas for STEAM

Similar to the STEM model, STEAM is an educational approach that incorporates the arts into the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics program. This model allows learners to improve their artistic skills, including dance, photography, writing, and painting. Generally, students learn all the aspects of visual and performing arts.

However, to incorporate art in your STEM education, you need the right activities for your learners. Here are some project ideas for STEAM to get you started:

Reflection Art

Magic mirrors can help you mesmerize your learners and improve their art skills. Reflection art also helps improve other aspects of your STEAM model, such as math and science. For this, you will need materials such as:

  • Pens, markers, or crayons
  • Small hand mirror, but at least one straightedge
  • Printable pie slice worksheet

How to Make Reflection Art

  1. Instruct your students to draw on/color in the pie slice template. Be as creative as you can! Adding a little detail and contrast makes the project more interesting.
  2. Place the mirror on top of a side line of the pie slice worksheet so the edges of the mirror and template match up. 

What the Students will Observe and Learn

Students should see reflections of the drawing. As the students move the mirror, the drawings' reflections will change. This is a great way to teach students how symmetry, angles, and geometry work. 

Exploding Paint Rockets 

This STEAM idea allows learners to combine chemistry, engineering, and art in an exciting way. Exploding paint rockets are film canisters filled with fizzy tablets—they are similar to the Alka Seltzer Rockets, only that the fizzies are colored. Common materials for this project include:

  • Alka Seltzer tablets
  • Film canisters with lids
  • A large sheet of white paper or poster board
  • Tempera or water-based paint

How to Make Exploding Paint Rockets

  1. Take your class outside to a wide area that allows for messes.
  2. Start by pouring a tablespoon of the watered-down paint into the film canister.
  3. Break the Alka Seltzer tablet in half and drop one half into the film canister.
  4. Snap the lid on, give the canister a quick shake, and place it upside down on your paper. (The lid should e sitting on the paper).
  5. Step back and wait for the reaction to occur. This can take up to 30 seconds.

What the Students will Observe and Learn 

Students will observe that the film canister will fly up to 20 feet in the air, exploding and spitting the paint on the paper. You can ask the students questions such as why the rockets exploded, what they found the best ratio of paint to water is, and how high the rockets went, etc.

Penny Spinners 

Buying toys online is convenient; making them with your students is more exciting. To do this, you will need:

  • Cardboard
  • Glue/ tape
  • Scissors
  • Pennies
  • Printable templates
  • Markers or crayons

How to Make Penny Spinners 

  1. Take the cardboard and cut it into circles. You can use circular objects such as cups, bowls, or a compass to outline your cardboard before cutting.
  2. Allow students to decorate their cardboard.
  3. Next, make a tiny slit at the center of the cardboard circle to slide the penny through. The slit needs to be the same size as the penny, so don't cut it too big. (Your cardboard should be flat when you make the slit, with the penny standing upright).

What the Students will Observe and Learn 

Have the students spin the penny spinners like a top. Ask them how the penny spinner can keep turning. This is a great way to teach them about centrifugal force. The various designs students create on their spinners can greatly improve this project. 

  1. Other STEAM Project Ideas
  • Pi Skyline (creating a skyline using the digits of Pi)
  • Fibonacci art (consists of spirals and numbers to create shapes)
  • Chromatography art (a chemical process of separating ink with a liquid)

How to Effectively Execute Your Projects

Finding a project idea for STEAM is the first step; the second is to ensure the learners grasp what is intended. To do so with your students, you must

  1. Introduce the background of the project
  2. Demonstrate the project
  3. Plan/predict the outcome
  4. Explore/create
  5. Record
  6. Present

Key Takeaway 

The STEAM program helps students cultivate the connection between the sciences and art and approach problems in creative ways. One of the best ways of achieving this is by incorporating art into the already-existing STEM system. Feel free to use the STEAM ideas to improve your students' creative skills.

Written by Mary Joseph
Education World Contributor
Copyright© 2022 Education World