STEAM in Museums: Thinking Outside the Classroom

Most Americans are now familiar with the concept of STEM learning, curriculum that carefully focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The goal is to inspire the next generation to work in STEM-related fields and become the vanguard of science and mathematics. The arts community quickly got involved in this goal by adding an A (for Arts) to the equation. Thus, STEAM was born.

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STEAM brings a multitude of opportunities to classrooms across the country. Working together, science and art instructors might have their students build a bridge or design a diorama. Theater instructors might team up with math instructors to teach lessons about building sets for a play. Many schools and teachers find they were doing STEAM lessons without realizing it!

Beyond the classroom, museums have also stepped up to provide students with cross-disciplinary activities they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. NSLM is proud to join this educational revolution and show how sporting art is teeming with hands-on learning opportunities.

For example, did you know that there are math lessons hidden inside the artwork in NSLM’s collections?

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Finding Sea Hero’s proportions. How do artists use proportion?

 

Drawing with ratios- just like Da Vinci!

Not just math, either. It turns out that NSLM’s art collections are also chock-full of science!

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Visiting students use pieces from the permanent collection to learn about ecosystems, biomes, geographic zones, food chains, and even the water cycle!

How many herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores can you find in the paintings below? How many coniferous and deciduous trees? How many different kinds of waterways?

It’s not just sporting art, it’s natural science!

 

 

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John Frederick Herring, Jr. (English, 1815-1907) Eight Farmyard Vignettes oil on canvas, 16 x 16 inches. Gift of Mrs. Felicia Warburg Rogan, 2008.
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John Bucknell Russell (Scottish, 1820-1893) The Day’s Catch, c. 1865, oil on canvas, 21 1/4 x 29 1/4 inches. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Timothy Greenan, 2011
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Michael Lyne (English, 1912-1989) Frederick M.M. Warburg with Middleburg Hunt at Goose Creek c. 1950, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches. Gift of Felicia Warburg Rogan, 2008.

Architects and engineers depend on art and design to create cities, roadways, and space shuttles. Artists, musicians, and designers use geometry, physics, mathematics, and technology to create culture as we know it. These topics are all tied very closely together, so it only makes sense that they appear in NSLM’s collections. But don’t take my word for it, come see for yourself!

Do you know an educator, parent, or PTO member who would like to book one of our STEAM-related tours? Contact Anne Marie Barnes, Clarice & Robert H. Smith Educator, at ABarnes@NationalSporting.org (540) 687-6542 x25.


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Anne Marie Barnes is the Educational Programs Manager and Fellowship Advisor at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM). Her passion for museum work began shortly after graduation with a Bachelor’s degree in History from James Madison University. Between her expeience working at the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center and the Washington Heritage Museums, she has done everything from designing summer camps to formulating major fundraisers. Have a question? Contact Anne Marie by e-mail

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