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STEAM AND TEACHING WITH STEAM IN THE CLASSROOM by Kenneth Kay PRIMARY SOURCES by Catherine Cooney Adding the letter A for Art and turning STEM into STEAM acknowledges the role of creativity, curiosity, wonder, and beauty in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). This addition also emphasizes the science, technology, engineering, and math inherent in art. The A takes math facts and uses them to spark theories. It takes practicing scales and transforms them into jazz riffs. The A in STEAM lets students explore unexpected paths and wonder about what might be possible. Primary sources provide rich material to wonder about. Students practice critical thinking and analysis skills through studying these sources by closely observing, reflecting, and asking questions. Art, whether visual art, music, movement, or theater, connects with us emotionally as well as intellectually, and many students naturally engage with the arts on a deep level, allowing their curiosity to lead learning. It is this intrinsic drive that fuels lasting knowledge. Albert Einstein famously said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Add the A to STEM and watch where curiosity leads.

The goal of STEAM is to use cross-curricular experiences and a variety of deep content, combined with discovery through realworld activities, to maximize learning. It allows students to learn from their strengths and improve their weaker skills. This way of learning maximizes the concept of divergent thinking. The arts help make STEM personal. STEAM accentuates experiential, hands-on education. It encourages connection and collaboration. As students seek to solve diverse problems, their creative juices are set in motion by an infusion of arts thinking. Students feel more in charge of what and how they learn.

APPLYING THE LENSES OF STEAM TO TEACHING WITH PRIMARY SOURCES by Trey Smith Teaching with primary sources in classrooms involves inviting students to observe, reflect, and question. Students' noticings and wonderings can spark further investigations. In pursuing these investigations, teachers can support students in applying, both separately and together, the lenses of the sciences, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. For instance, how might students make sense of a political cartoon about water quality from the perspective of an artist and of a scientist?  Additionally, what might students learn about art, engineering, and technology from a historical patent for a wireless communication system inspired by a musical instrument? Primary sources, as artifacts created for real-world audiences and purposes, offer windows into the past and into disciplinary knowledge and practices.

This undated photograph shows Hamilton Hall at the University of the Arts when the school was known as the Philadelphia College of Art. The building was originally part of the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf & Dumb.

The University of the Arts, established in 1876, is one of the nation’s only universities dedicated solely to educating students in design, fine arts, media arts, crafts, music, dance, and theater. The University has developed an innovative and flexible approach to developing professional artists, designers, and writers. The University acts as a catalyst for these creative professionals to connect, collaborate, and create across disciplines and traditional boundaries. The Professional + Adult Programs office at the University provides K-12 teachers in the provides professional development programming across subject disciplines and grade levels to K-12 teachers in the regional educational community.



The Teaching with Primary Sources Program at the Library of Congress works with colleges and other educational organizations to deliver professional development programs that help teachers use the Library of Congress’s rich reservoir of digitized primary source materials to design challenging, high-quality instruction. As part of the Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Educational Consortium, the University of the Arts creates curricular materials and professional development opportunities for K-12 educators that focus on teaching with primary sources in an arts context to enhance cross-curricular areas in all grade levels. The Professional Institute for Educators at the University of the Arts - Through graduate courses, the Professional Institute for Educators develops innovative and creative educational programming to serve the professional development needs of K-12 teachers in and through the arts. PIE is a recipient of the Pennsylvania State Education Association Seal of Recognition.


Image Credits

Erin Elman is Director of the TPS Program at the University of the Arts and Dean of the Division of Continuing Studies at the University of the Arts.


Catherine Cooney is the Program Coordinator for the TPS Program at the University of the Arts. Kenneth Kay is a UArts TPS Coach and an instructor in the University of the Arts Professional Institute for Educators. His areas of concentration are multimedia, mobile devices, communication, and conflict resolution.

Bell, Alexander Graham. Drawing by Alexander Graham Bell. 1876. The Library of Congress, https:// Back: Historic American Buildings Survey, Creator. Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf & Dumb, 320 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA. 1933. Photograph. The Library of Congress,

Trey Smith has taught science and social studies in Philadelphia public schools, served as the 2015–16 Science Teacher-in-Residence at the Library of Congress, and is currently pursuing a PhD in the learning sciences at Northwestern University.

The University of the Arts 320 South Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19102 | 215-717-6006 |

Teaching with Primary Sources Program at the University of the Arts

STEM AND STEAM RESOURCES A Sampling from the Library of Congress Digitized Collection


For Classrooms

Key Collections

Classroom Resources: Science and Invention themes/science/collections.html

Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers

Primary Source Sets: Science and Invention themes/science/set.html

America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894 to 1915

Teacher Blog: STEM-Related Posts America’s First Look into the Camera: Daguerreotype Portraits and Views, 1839– 1862 connections/daguerreotype/ Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America connections/gottscho-schleisner/ Around the World in the 1890s: Photographs from the World’s Transportation Commission connections/transport-comm/ Mapping the National Parks connections/mapping-national-parks/ Origins of American Animation connections/american-animation/ Quilts and Quiltmaking in America 1978–1996 connections/quilt-making/

Chronicling America: Historical American Newspapers Historic American Buildings Survey and Historic American Engineering Records Samuel Morse Papers

Presentations and Activities From Fantasy To Flight teachers/classroommaterials/ presentationsandactivities/presentations/ fantasy-flight/ Zoom into Maps presentationsandactivities/presentations/ maps

STEM to STEAM: This organization advocates for STEAM education. 40+ Projects that combine STEM with Art! From Pink Stripey Socks: http://www. html. Projects that integrate STEM with art. Categories include making art materials, experimenting with art materials, and using art to illustrate STEM ideas. ArtsEdge: http://artsedge.kennedy-center. org/educators.aspx. A resource from the Kennedy Center hosting numerous lessons that integrate Art into the curriculum. EDSITEment!: A vast collection of art- and humanitiesrelated resources, which include many STEM and STEAM lesson plans. KinderArt®: index.html. Art lessons for a wide variety of topics, including architecture and crosscurriculum activities.

Math and Science in the Classroom Math – Art Activity Books: http://www. Examples include This is Not a Math Book, Amazing Math Projects You Can Build, and MathArts: Exploring Math Through Art for 3 to 6 Year Olds. Math Art: http://www.whatdowedoallday. com/tag/math-art/. This program teaches kids who love math to appreciate art and teaches kids who love art to understand the importance of math. Activities include pi city skylines, spirolaterals, parabolic curves, tessellations, and Fibonacci curves.

Math in Art 18 STEAM Projects from http:// Projects include the Pythagorean Snail, the Golden Ratio, and Compass Painting. TeacherVision® Popular Art Activities for Math Class: https://www.teachervision. com/popular-art-activities-math-class. Includes lessons for creating counting books, crafts that encourage measuring, geometry printables to color, and sculpting activities. TPS Barat: This site provides project-based learning materials based on Library of Congress resources and includes STEM-related lessons and activities. eduTopia: 5 Reasons Why Origami Improves Students’ Skills: https://www.edutopia. org/blog/why-origami-improves-studentsskills-ainissa-ramirez. Explore ways to use origami, the ancient art of paper folding, as a STEAM engine for teaching geometry, thinking skills, fractions, problem solving, and science. The Math and Magic of Origami: http:// way_new_origami. This TED Talk features Robert Lang, a pioneer of the newest kind of origami. He demonstrates math and engineering principles through making folded paper structures. NPR: Where Science Meets Art: http://www. This site includes exceptional podcasts integrating Science and Art. Culture Street: Stop Frame Animator: http:// stopframeanimator/. This simple drag-anddrop tool helps students create animated stop-motion movies. Animation can be used beyond storytelling to explain science, engineering, and math concepts.


Additional Philadelphia Area Collections Related to STEAM

Bartram’s Garden: The former estate of John Bartram (1699–1777), a “Royal Botanist” who amassed the most varied collection of North American plants in the world. Educators and students are welcomed to the 45acre National Historic Landmark.

American Philosophical Society:

Library Company of Philadelphia: Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the collection includes American science, technology, architecture, natural history, and medicine. Their digital collections may be searched at

The Wagner Free Institute of Science of Philadelphia:

Mütter Museum: The Mütter Museum is part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Its collection of specimens, models, and instruments related to medical history is displayed in a 19th-century “cabinet museum” setting. The Historical Medical Library makes its digital collections available to all at library/digital-resources. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, has significant collections related to industry and design.. More than 125,000 items are available through their digital collections at http://www.philamuseum. org/collections/search.html. Teacher resources, including many related to STEAM topics, are available at teacherresources. Fonthill Castle, Mercer Tile Works, and the Mercer Museum were designed and constructed by Henry Mercer and are now National Historic Landmarks. They house as objects, technologies, and tools related to everyday life in America before the industrial revolution. The archives, library, and museum collections are available at research-library/

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University:

Chemical Heritage Foundation: Hagley Museum and Hagley Library:

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library:

Other STEAM Collections Cooper Hewitt is the Smithsonian Design Museum dedicated to all disciplines of design. The collection spans thirty centuries, and much of it can be viewed online. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, http://www., has made images of its extraordinary collection available online, including more than 200,000 images in the public domain. The Museum of Modern Art, https://www.moma. org/collection/, includes many design objects, with 74,000 images viewable online. NASA has made images from their photo archive easily accessible via Flickr at com/photos/nasacommons. The National Gallery of Art has made more than 85,000 images from its collection available at https:// London’s Natural History Museum, http://data., has put data, images, and audio of more than 3 million specimens online. The Wellcome Collection, https://, calls itself “the free visitor destination for the incurably curious.” Their collection is especially useful for those interested in the history of medicine and natural sciences. The World Digital Library is a Library of Congress project that makes some of the most extraordinary primary source materials from all over the globe freely available. See

An Educator's Guide to Sources for STEAM  
An Educator's Guide to Sources for STEAM