Art and STEM--Elementary--Vinchenza Sweet

Monrovia Elementary School - Huntsville 

2015 Summer Fellowship Plans:

Investigate artists, architecture and antiquities of France, creating 3D scans of artifacts and  interactive videos that integrate STEM learning concepts in the art curriculum.

Project Description

“Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” -Leonardo da Vinci It is vitally important that connections are made between subjects to create authentic, enriching, and challenging learning experiences. This concept is currently recognized and even mandated within our school systems through the Common Core standards, STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) or STEM learning philosophies, and the College and Career Readiness Standards. The Visual Arts connect all subject areas of learning together, creating multiple opportunities for students to hone their skills in higher order thinking, creative problem solving, and deep information processing that is required and necessary for their development and future success. I teach art to over 1,200 Pre-K - 5th grade students per year. Most of these students will not have the opportunity for art classes again until high school, which makes their time in my art class even more critical. To address a broader issue, many students, parents, and even other educators perceive art as crafts for fun. When they think of art, old paintings in museums that do not have a meaningful or relevant connection to contemporary times comes to mind. These simplifications have led to the perception of elementary art as secondary and elective as opposed to primary and required. My calling and challenge is to establish a curriculum that replaces this bias with knowledge and creativity skills to engage “art thinking” across any educational discipline. Why France? France is home to a diverse and incredibly notable selection of art which is centrally located in Paris. To name a few; the Louvre Museum with da Vinci's “Mona Lisa” , the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Palace of Versailles, and Monet's art and gardens. These famous works of art, architecture and historical places incorporate many of the cross disciplines that demonstrate the value art brings to my students, regardless of their future educational or career paths. Historical perspective, modern understanding, and futuristic technology can bring the visual arts to life for young minds. All students can benefit from an Arts Education program that is designed to have culturally enriching, creatively stimulating, science and engineering inclusive, and technologically engaging projects and units. This type of enrichment is possible with the intentional implementation of technology devices during visits to see French antiquities. I am seeking this fellowship to bring virtual experiences back from France for my students, as I integrate some of the worlds' most famous and familiar art, artists and architecture into the arts curriculum with new innovative technology.

Link to blog:  Art Teacher Visits France

Career Impact:

In my career as an art teacher, I am always striving to find new and innovative ways to connect art to my students in a way that relates to 21st century skills and ideas.This can only be ensured through my own willingness to learn, adapt, and create art units that relate to my students in engaging ways, while also incorporating a full understanding of how the arts connect to other meaningful content areas within the overall curriculum. I chose to investigate artists, architecture and antiquities of France, creating 3D scans of artifacts and interactive videos that integrate STEM learning concepts in the art curriculum. I am currently in the process of beginning a new school year, which involves adapting the materials and this newfound knowledge from my travels into practical classroom experiences for my students. This school year has started out to be highly interactive and immersive for my students. This new immersive aspect to my teaching will assist in motivating my students in their own quest for knowledge. The plans and experiences will continue to develop, as I continue to seek better ways to utilize this technology. Creating a more 3-dimensional experience within the art room for my students was a challenge. I am still learning how to adapt this technology with limited class time and some technological hurdles, but so far it has been very rewarding to watch my students get excited about the implementation of the technology. For instance, when the class learned about The Orangerie Museum, and were able to see Monet’s Water Lilies in the virtual 360º app versus a traditional photo (that cannot possibly capture the intensity of the actual experience), this becomes like a virtual museum tour for them! When they realize that what they are looking at is not just a still photo, but one that they can interact with, and explore the surroundings within the space, viewing Monet’s art in the round as it was meant to be experienced by the artist himself; they become more engaged in the material. This enthusiasm, and their understanding of the material gives students a deeper learning that ultimately translates into the success of their own Monet-inspired painting. Traveling to France first-hand, to investigate and create virtual experiences for my students has thoroughly impacted my career. My fellowship has enabled me to bring back immersive subject matter to my students and to teach more enthusiastically and interactively about art than ever before.

This is the Pointillist Eiffel tower that some of my 4th and 5th graders collaboratively made during class. They also made smaller Eiffel towers using the Pointillist technique for their own individual projects last school year.

The map is a collaborative effort as well. During our school art show at the end of the year, I invited several people to come from local places to help with creating a STEAM-themed art show. One of which is a local artist who uses maps and cartography within his work, Dave Nuttall. Dave set up a table at the art show and let students add features to the map in order to make his booth/area hands-on and collaborative. The finished product is hanging beside the Eiffel tower project.

I wanted to share with you two murals my 5th grade Art Club students completed last school year at Monrovia Elementary School. These have both been installed in the outdoor classroom/garden area.

Both were inspired by images and lesson plans that came about due to my fellowship.

One is Monet's garden. The students looked at my photographs of his garden and painted it in an impressionistic style. The other one was inspired by Van Gogh's Sunflowers!

Last modified: Wednesday, 16 November 2016, 10:28 AM