Before I had the opportunity to work with the North Carolina Museum of Art, I thought integrating art into my classroom meant drawing pictures and coloring diagrams. After spending time with Museum educators, I learned that art integration includes observing, interpreting, critiquing, and using pieces of art to relate to the science curriculum. It also includes having students create their own paintings, drawings, and sculptures. By using art in my classroom in these new ways, I have come to the realization that art and science have many connections. And now that I see these natural connections, bringing art into a science classroom has become an easy way to engage, empower, and excite students about learning.
One lesson that has been successful in my classroom is using art to discuss texture in geology. After learning about types of rocks, students are introduced to the painting Orange Outline by Franz Kline. I guide a discussion about the painting and then use it to introduce the students to texture and scale, words that relate to both science and art. I ask the class to compare and contrast how texture is used in art and how it is described in terms of rocks and geology. As a final product, the students create a rock painting. They choose a rock and make careful observations of a small portion of it. They use that small part of the rock to create a larger-scale painting, referring to the rock as often as needed to help complete the painting. I encourage them to use layers of paint, brushes, sponges, and other materials, such as sand and glitter, to add texture to the painting, similar to Orange Outline. Afterward the students complete a reflection that assesses their knowledge of geology as well as their understanding of the art techniques used in this activity.
Using art in a science classroom is a way for me to connect with my students. All students—AIG, EC, ESL, and everyone in between—can have success through art integration. By observing different works of art, students are able to make personal connections, use higher-level thinking skills to analyze the work of art, and learn to value the thoughts and opinions of their peers. Art gives the students a different way to look at the science concepts, which ultimately gives them a better understanding of what is being studied.
Jennifer Rogers is a math and science teacher at Hunters Creek Middle School in Onslow County.