Get Crafty! Integrate Art and Science

By combining diverse subjects, you will create some of your most memorable lessons.

By Lynsey Peterson

Arts & crafts supplies

Science and art, the two subjects seem like opposites. Science makes people think about logic and reason; art brings to mind the creative and spontaneous. However, these two subjects do not have to be opposing forces. Scientists need creativity to solve problems, and there are many ways to integrate the two subjects. In doing so, you may find yourself better able to reach and engage both the budding artists and the aspiring scientists in your classroom.

Integrating Visual Art

There are many ways to integrate visual art into your science curriculum. When students use microscopes, provide them with a range of inexpensive art supplies to illustrate what they see. Colored pencils, markers, and even paints are excellent mediums for this activity. Make sure to give your microbiologists a list of structures to identify and label. Even artists who are unsure of themselves will put more thought and consideration into the microscopic structures if they are creating a work of art to correspond to the images. If time permits, you can expand this into an end-of-year art show where pupils may display their best work.

Creating sculptures and models can also help learners remember the parts and functions of cells, atoms, or other structures. Have them use unusual materials when they create their models, such as differently shaped dry noodles, or types of candy for the various parts. Challenge your artists to find objects that match both the form and the function of the parts they wish to represent. For example, mitochondria could be represented with batteries, since they supply the cell with energy. Using creative problem solving for their models, along with an eye for the structure and function they wish to represent, will help model-makers to better remember the content.

Integrating Animation

To help your pupils understand a scientific process, try assigning flip books or stop-motion animation projects. A deep understanding of the process, along with an eye for detail, will be required for the project’s successful completion. Mitosis or meiosis, phagocytosis, chemical reactions, and physical laws can all be represented using rudimentary animation techniques. Flip books are the easiest and quickest way to do this, but if you have more time, try assigning stop-motion animation. Working in groups, pupils can create their own models to move in increments. They can either photograph or generate incremental pictures using computer paint programs. Once the groups have created or photographed all of their images, help upload them to a computer. Windows Movie Maker, or a similar program, can put the pictures together along with narration and a soundtrack. Finally, groups can share their completed work and illustrate the scientific processes for the class.

Integrating Drama

One other way to integrate art as you illustrate scientific processes in your classroom is to assign dramatic presentations. Each group demonstrates a related process or cycle. For example, I have assigned this type of project in relation to nutrient cycles. Your actors may not understand the project at first, but once you explain that they are to teach the process using a dramatic play or skit, and have given them some time to think, their creative juices will begin flowing. Keep the groups on-task and help them remember their goal as they write and perfect their skits. You can assign similar projects involving music and songwriting as well.

There are many ways to integrate art into curriculum. How do you integrate the arts into your classroom?

Lesson Plans:

Science and Art Museum

After researching scientific artwork, groups create original art using digital cameras, microscopes, and computers. This project requires experimentation, problem-solving, and creativity.

Nature Art Exploration

The outdoors and watercolors are integrated to provide an interesting lesson. Artists work outside to observe nature and create watercolor paintings of a wetland. They also make clay sculptures of native species.

Rockin' Chalk

In this exploration, the study of petroglyphs integrates art with science and history. After a study of rocks and minerals, young geologists learn about primitive tribes and their artwork. They use their knowledge of minerals as they formulate their own chalks.

Biology Guide

Lynsey Peterson