At Young Engineers, we run STEM/STEAM focussed programs as incursions, after-school clubs and holiday workshops across Australia. Our STEAM holiday workshops are especially exciting because we combine art and technology to teach different themes and science concepts. The teaching methodologies address whole brain development as children use creative expression across multiple channels and observe how art and technology combine in design thinking.
Below is a description of our Scientist-Artist camp conducted in Oct 2018 where we explored the lifes of multiple scientists who were also accomplished artists.
STEAM session one – Aviation
Girls from Prep to Year 2 learned all about aviation and aerodynamics while learning about the renowned artist – Leonardo Da Vinci. While Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is a household name, his science diaries are less known – Da Vinci did many experiments and designed many machines which were way ahead of his time. He recorded his observations in secret code and designed and made the world’s first flying machine. Unfortunately, the machine did not work and resulted in a dangerous accident for his students – who tested the machine without permission.
After learning about such exciting science stories, the girls got to design their own flying machine.They looked at nature for inspiration – taking design ideas from the birds, bees and bats, the girls sat down and sketched their own machines. They then brought their sketches to life using a variety of craft material like cardboard tubes, feathers, craft
sticks, wooden wheels, dowel rods and more. It was interesting to note how each girl came up with a 3d structure very closely matching with their initial sketch. Thus they were able to experience end-to-end design process while learning about many aerodynamics concepts related to body and wing shape.
In the second half of the session, the girls got to engineer a Lego rescue helicopter! They learnt all about lift force and Bernoulli’s principle behind modern flying machine. They made a helicopter with rotating motors and a rescue platform that swung on string and moved up and down. The session ended with lots of Lego play rescuing little Lego people from imaginary dangers!
STEAM session two – Acoustics
Session 2, again for Prep to Year2 girls, began with some stories about Samuel Morse. Morse invented the Morse code – which led to the invention of telegram and the birth of telecommunication. At the same time he was a famous collage artist – painting ‘portraits’ within portraits.
The girls were given paper bags along with photos of themselves, their families, animals, everyday objects etc. They had to create their own picture stories as a collage on the bag. The girls were immersed in this activity for over an hour – coming up with humorous stories, cutting and pasting and laughing together.
After a quick snack break, the girls proceeded to make their own Lego morse machine. The machine had 2 ‘arms’ with which it would tap out a message on the table. 1 tap is a dot and 3 taps is a dash. Different combination of dots and dashes makes up the morse alphabet. So E is a dot, A is a dot dash and so on. The girls got to try their hands at coding as they had to program the arms to tap out secret messages. They had a lot of fun exploring rhythm, frequency and machine mechanics to generate the correct sound pattern
STEAM session 3 – Botany
Session 3 was for Year 3s and Year 4s. The girls gained a lot of inspiration from Maria Sybil Merian – She was a leading woman pioneer scientist of the 16th century. While other woman of her time were barely getting an opportunity to read or write, Merian was observing and illustrating insects, flowers and small animals. She was the first scientist to discover insect life cycles and she even travelled independently from Europe to South America, to observe and learn more about the natural world.
Merian’s story inspired the girls to create their on insect illustrations. They were given different insect shaped cut-outs and they had to illustrate them by looking at different insect photos just once and recalling the details. After all – Merian did not have a camera, and observed and drew insects from memory! They also worked together in a group using different craft material to recreate the insects’ habitat. The girls got very creative and made rocky patches from cardboard and spider webs from dowel rods and thread!
The girls then proceeded to engineer a Lego robot rabbit – that actually hopped! The girls solved many engineering challenges that included racing the rabbit to identify the fastest one, building a basket on the rabbit’s back and even turning the rabbit into a robot dinosaur!
STEAM session 4 – Mathematical Patterns
For session 4, the Year 3s & 4s came together to study Jen Stark – the contemporary artist who uses maths and science to create beautiful 2d and 3d pattern art. After marvelling at Jem’s amazing artwork, the girls learned all about the different mathematical patterns in nature. They learned about the Fibonacci sequence, linear and radial symmetry and the logarithmic curve. They marvelled at how these mathematical formula are applicable to nature – like in an insect’s shell, along the curve of a wave and in honey combs and crystals.
Now it was time to make their own patterns. The girls were taught various origami folds, and they had to use these folds to create radial symmetry. They learned about contrasts, hues, and shape combinations while creating some amazing artwork!
The last engineering activity for the holidays was making their own pattern making machine. The girls made a Lego machine that drew by itself. They also programmed it to turn on and off using motion and to draw different patterns. Both girls and their parents were spellbound by this machine that drew intricate designs by itself. No one wanted to pack up and the session went well over time!
Also dont forget to enroll your child for the next amazing STEAM holiday workshop – details here.