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1.  STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Math

Have any of you been involved in a STEAM project that included theatre?  We have a STEAM day for incoming ninth graders, and we try to have a "station" or two for each letter.  The ceramics teacher and the music teacher have had projects which correlated art and math or chemistry; but I would love to create a STEAM project for Theater.  I'd love to hear if anyone has been involved in STEAM in that respect.  Thanks.  

Kathleen Herb-Baker
San Diego CA

2.  RE:STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Math

I have, we used Theatre in relation to math and science mostly through technical theatre components but I've also done a playwriting uncut using math or science standards as jumping off points for content. I typically have my students select 1 science standard, 1 math standard, and math or science related historical figure. I prep all of these in advance and then have them research each of them and present their findings to class. From there we use a diagram method and focus on one of their areas to develop a story and eventually a short play. For example they might get Newton and research him and latch onto the apple falling from the tree story. So they develop a story leading up to that- why he was in an orchard to begin with, why the apple fell, what he did with the apple... Etc. I've gotten everything from clones, to a professor stealing the work of a grad student and the impending court case, to a magical meteorite that is really a placebo for truth that turns out to actually be dog poop. The possibilities are endless.
Victoria Kesling Councill
Theatre Teacher
New Kent County Public Schools
New Kent VA

3.  RE:STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Math

Our steam classes designed a robot chicken for our production of Into the Woods. It was adorable! they designed a basic robot and looked on the web for chickens from unusual materials. they ended up using Coffee filters! It was lightweight and got the the show and the Steam program great press.
Maggie Ward
Columbia MD

4.  RE:STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Math

I'm so glad your school has recognized the importance of STEAM not STEM. A simple (depending on your resources, of course) display for the kind of demonstration and sampling day you describe is to setup an intelligent lighting playground and let the students tinker with controlling moving light fixtures. In fact, if you don't have the equipment in-house to do that you might contact a theatrical supply house to see if they might supply it for you as a marketing tool. Good luck and keep up the good work.
Ben Martin
Past Board Of Trustees
Executive Director, Missouri Alliance for Arts Education
Lee's Summit MO

5.  RE:STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Math

My 8th graders are currently writing short science plays, that we will be presenting to our science classes.  I learned this technique from Dan Rubin, a playwrite in san francisco.
We started by reading a short play:  the truth teller by native american writer Diane Glancy, which provides a mythical framework for re-imagining natural and historical phenomena.
Then students each researched one scientific theory, or idea, or concept.  They then had to explain that concept to a small group in 3 minutes. Then each group imagined characters that are imbedded within their concept.  Then they use their characters and imagine what interactions between them that help explain their scientific idea.  They collaborate and write short plays based on this.
The kids are very engaged in this process, and we've learned quite a bit about science.  They are creating plays based on Gravity, Combustion, The Rock Cycle, Black holes, DNA, Evolution, Hurricanes and others.. 
Characters range from humans, to animals and forces of nature

Richard Silberg
Berkeley CA

6.  RE:STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Math

STEAM projects that can bring-in the physics (physical science) and math teachers are easy to do with stage lighting and counter-weighted stage rigging.
  • Lighting projects can be a simple as Ohm's Law for electricity, or more complicated to calculate composite loads of various wattage lamps when combined.  More extreme work can involve looking at the voltage drop (power loss, and hence, fire hazard) over various lengths of 18, 14, 12, and 10 gauge wire with heavy loads.  Of course the math is safe to do, but be cautious if measuring live circuits.  A great opportunity for learning how to use measuring devices.
  • Lighting can look at the physics of color mixing, learning about wavelengths of light, inverse square law, and measuring luminous flux and intensity.
  • Counter-weighted load balancing can involve creating spreadsheets to account for all of the individual lighting instruments, cables, and accessories as they are added-to /subtracted-from a batten, and then calculating the number of various sized counterweights that must be transferred to keep the system safely balanced.  If you throw in a double-purchase arbor, then the math gets more complicated and they learn about the mechanical advantage of pulleys.  Further highly controlled experiments can calculate the speed, acceleration, and friction of an out-of-balance system so they can predict the damage it will do when a run-away arbor hits the stops.
  • For motorized rigging, the student can learn about gear ratios, the conversion of electrical power to mechanical power, motor technologies, and control system engineering.
  • Industrial Safety is a profession that involves all of the STEM components, and all of the issues encountered in that profession can relate directly to the activities we do on and above the stage.  There are an almost unlimited number of subjects that can be explored learning about this profession.
  • Fire Protection Science involve many aspects of the stage and auditorium operations, so students can learn about fuel loads, combustible materials, fire suppression systems, plumbing engineering, smoke control systems, fire and smoke detection systems, emergency lighting systems, building codes, and architectural egress issues.
Everything we do in the theatre involves STEAM.  If you  don't see it, you shouldn't be doing it.

Erich Friend
Theatre Consultant
Teqniqal Systems

7.  RE:STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Math

Not an official STEAM project, but a start. Our STEM teacher approached me, and asked me to write down specs for a potential new Fine Arts center. I developed a list of requirements and specs, with rationale. That became the assignment for his top level class. Blueprints, 3-D models, virtual walkthroughs, you name it.

Then, I was invited to be on of the 5 judges who reviewed and voted on the 5 teams. Total win-win. Also, while in the STEM meeting with administrators and outside engineers, I made sure to bring up the fact that engineering and theatre are inextricably linked. 


Scott Piehler
Drama Director
Lilburn GA