arts · inspiration · local resources · professional development · STEM

STEAM Makers Fair for Teachers

Last night I attended a teacher event at the North Carolina Museum of Art. This is the second such event I have attended at the museum and they never disappoint! This one was focused on the connection of visual arts with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and offered hands-on stations where teachers could explore activities and projects for use in their own classrooms.

In my favorite session of the evening, we created little bird nests out of floral wire and a bunch of other decorative items, modeled after Patrick Dougherty’s installation that hangs in the museum restaurant.

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The basic idea behind the lesson is to learn about different nests and what they tell you about the birds who live in them. A couple of books that were suggested are:

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Students then create smallish nests using floral wire and adorn them with their choice of decorative items like pipe cleaners, raffia, string, paper scraps, and feathers.

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The nests were so much fun to create and can be so varied. In doing this with students, they should be able to talk about their nests, explaining the reasoning behind the items they chose to add and describing the kind of bird that would inhabit it. I see possibilities for narrative writing, nature walks to search out real nests and photograph them, compare and contrast of their nests…

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In addition to all of the great lesson ideas and teaching strategies you will leave with, they really spoil us at these events. They have terrific food set out for you to graze on and all kinds of beverages, beer and wine included. Awesome, right?! This makes for a great opportunity to do some networking with all of the other educators who have attended. As you leave, they send you off with a set of 8 full color, poster sized works of art for use in your classroom in addition to a little bag with other helpful resources.

I have attended similar teacher events at the North Carolina Museum of History and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences that were equally helpful. If you are not in the Raleigh area, check out the museums near you and get on their mailing lists! Museums all over the country love to share with educators and really want you to visit and see what they have to offer to help you bring the arts into your classroom.

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