Putting the 'A' in Steam lessons

Find out more about the change from Stem to Steam from a teachers’ perspective and how to implement it in your classroom

Sian Evans

A Friendly Robot Holding Tools To Start His Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Maths Lesson

Savvy Steam coordinator, Robert Bulmer, offers his inspirational ideas for making the transition from teaching Stem to Steam

Like many teachers, I'm very familiar with Stem. But just imagine my surprise when I accepted a job offer and spotted that the additional responsibility of Steam coordinator. Was it just a typo? Apparently not.

We all know that Stem is a well-known curriculum using four disciplines, science, technology, engineering and maths, to solve problems based on real-world scenarios. Ultimately, the inclusion of 'A' for 'arts' turns Stem to Steam, with the goal of enabling true innovation and a new way of thinking creatively.

Here are just some of the ways that I’m planning on making the transition in the new academic year:

Use art lessons as your starting point and add in Stem subjects

Photographic manipulation is a great way of getting to know a group of students. Start by taking a look at a few different artists; as I’m in Italy, we are taking a closer look at the works of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. Ask pupils to choose a painting which inspires them and take a selfie that mirrors the pose in the picture. They can then experiment with manipulation software using tools such as the 'magic wand' and 'lasso' to create their very own masterpiece.


Flowers - Rainbow Daffodils Experiment

Flowers - Rainbow Daffodils Experiment

This arty experiment shows how plants use 'capillary action&' to take water up their stems to the petals. Keep a diary so that you can compare the results you get with different colours over a few days. How about trying to make a rainbow of flowers? You can mix different food colouring together ...


This unit of work had been designed to compliment the SUNFLOWERS SCIENCE/LITERACY - UNIT OF WORK. These units of work include everything you will ever need to complete a topic on Sunflowers. This part of the unit covers the Numeracy/Art aspects of the topic with close links to Science. Numeracy has ...

Rethink classic Stem lesson ideas and find ways to add art into them

One of the most famous tried-and-tested Stem projects is to design and build a catapult or a projectile launcher. Students have to simultaneously use knowledge of angles and distance, basic trigonometry, geometry, ratios, engineering, critical thinking and teamwork to formulate and implement their designs. To add an element of art, my classes examine the work of Da Vinci, in particular his inventions, and explore how these are conveyed through detailed working drawings. It's historical Steam in action!


Den Day STEM Challenge - Build a structure that stands

Den Day STEM Challenge - Build a structure that stands

To support pupils taking part in Save the Children's Den Day, use these resources to challenge children to build a structure that stands, out of everyday materials. The accompanying presentations for KS1 and KS2 can be used to help children learn about the impact of natural disasters and how fa...

Investigate the unity between art and science in everyday life

Steam, as with Stem, is all about grounding critical thinking and problem-solving within real world examples. Continuing with theme of great artists, classes can explore perspective and composition and use their findings and 3D software to produce architectural models of their dream homes. Alternatively, investigate Da Vinci’s anatomical studies to give learners a greater understanding of ergonomics and anthropometrics, as well as how products are designed to suit peoples’ specific needs.


Designing Greek Monuments in 3D
Eli Sheldon

Designing Greek Monuments in 3D

In the Designing Greek Monuments in 3D lesson, students design new monuments to honor events in Greek history, Greek gods, or another aspect of Ancient Greece. After sketching their design on paper, students create their designs in 3D using the web-based modeling tool TinkerCad. Finally, students ex...
Kitchen Science - STEM activities
Science Museum Learning

Kitchen Science - STEM activities

A downloadable booklet of fun science activities using everyday ingredients, with notes for teachers. This booklet contains step-by-step instructions for science activities and experiments that are safe and easy to do in the classroom or at home.

Next steps

Art adds a new dimension to the creativity and flair that Stem seeks to promote, therefore adding the 'A' can only be a positive step. This is a chance to really think outside the box with much greater scope for experimentation. Steam activities encourage the use of different, unconventional materials and the opportunity for students to learn many new and exciting skills. For me, the aim is to include performing arts and drama with scope for set design, puppeteering and animation for a complete cross-curricular extravaganza!