Test + Learn

Question: How might arts-based teaching and learning methods support delivery of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) curriculum?


Problem: Schools locally and nationally are experiencing increasing pressure on time spent on the arts and struggling to justify opportunities to learn outside the classroom. They are seeking support to teach science in a more creative way.

Partners: The Guild collaborated with IOU Theatre (an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation) to deliver STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) taster workshops to KS2 children.

Approach: The Guild engaged two artists - Illustrator Chris Mould and Digital Artist Matt Howarth- to develop a new approach to exploring visual arts, literacy, technology and computing in a truly integrated way. This fused and engaged with a partner programme by IOU Theatre exploring kinetic art and the science behind making sculptures move. The programme was inspired by Half Moon, an exhibition of mechanical sculpture and photography responding to IOU Artistic Director David Wheeler’s residency in Antarctica. KS2 pupils were immersed in an expedition of storytelling, illustration and innovative interactive technology through the workshops. They created their own narratives which were recorded and uploaded onto Bare Conductive Touch Boards. Collaborating on a large illustration, they made a ‘talking picture’ that responded to touch. They created an interactive storytelling experience where a viewer (or listener!) could touch the illustration and hear the story unfold with different journeys and outcomes. The theme continued as the group worked with IOU staff to use breadboards, Arduinos and Scratch exploring a world where art and technology meet.

Findings: The pilot highlighted the benefits for schools in a cross-curricular approach to learning outside the classroom. Teachers fed back that the way the sessions were devised to engage with a number of curriculum areas was instrumental in adding value which justified taking the trip. Follow-up visits to the teachers also explored how organisations could support the school’s literacy development through integrating specific tasks or terminology into workshops. The pupil feedback illustrated the benefits that this approach had to their confidence in a variety of areas, with comments such as “[Before I couldn’t] speak confidently, [now I can] speak confidently”, “[Before I couldn’t] draw penguins, polar bears or explorers, [now I can] draw nearly everything” and “[Before I couldn’t] programme, [now I can] programme everything!!!”