Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

STEAM Project: Mark-Making Machines


Are you looking for an engaging project that will provide lots of discussion, movement, creativity and problem-solving with your artists BUT not take for-eh-ver to do? Well, I have a project for you!!

Here are a couple of Grade 8's Mark-Making
Machines with a bit of the display. 

My grade 8 art students began trimester 2 with an exciting art and engineering challenge! I began the activity with a discussion of the most basic art element--the mark. Students discussed and decided upon definitions for "mark" and "machine" and were then challenged to either work individually or in teams to create mark-making machines. Their constraints? The machine needed to use K'Nex building tools (I had a HUGE bucket of them), an art supply from the classroom (paint, markers, pencils, etc.) and use a simple machine (lever, pulley, wheel and axle, wedge, inclined plane or screw).

Students had two class periods to create, test and revise their machines. The process was messy and exciting and really got everyone moving, talking, sharing and working together. A great discussion about "what is art?" ensued as well as a larger discussion of "why?"--as in, "Why are we doing an engineering project in art class?" Students were able to brainstorm skills that they needed in this fun engineering challenge that they would be using this trimester in art class (and throughout their educational career): creativity, resourcefulness, grit, perseverance, working with others, problem solving and more.

By the end of day two, students were required to pass in their machine, an example of the "marks" their machines made (some of the pieces were quite beautiful!) and the video they created of their machine in action (they used iPads to take their videos). I had a hunch that this project would make a great display in our school's lobby so I wanted to make are I had the students give me the "fodder" I would need to showcase these machines!

I was able to create a QR Code for the videos of each of the machines and put them on the finished display, so visitors can scan the QR codes and see the machines in action. Here are a few of the videos for you to see:

This project was a fun way to start of the trimester! ENJOY!!

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