Just Following Instructions

By Tiffany Davis

Subject: Math, Art, DLCS
Grade Level: 2
Standards: MA STE, DLCS, Art, Math & ELA (Common Core)

Can you program a robot to create a Sol LeWitt-inspired geometric wall drawing?

American artist Sol LeWitt is best known for his instructional wall drawings. A proponent of minimalist, conceptual art, LeWitt famously hired other people to create installations using his written directions. The mathematical nature of LeWitt’s directions, which reference lines, shapes, angles, and patterns make LeWitt’s work a great starting point for STEAM learning.

The title of this project, “Just Following Instructions,” refers to more than LeWitt’s method for creating art. Students not only write mathematically-based instructions for making a drawing, much like LeWitt’s, but also translate those instructions into code that a robot can follow.

STE, Math, ELA & Visual Arts Standards

Grade 2.Geometry A. Reason with shapes and their attributes.

K-2.CT.d.3: Individually or collaboratively, create a simple program using visual instructions or tools that do not require a textual programming language (e.g., “unplugged” programming activities, a block-based programming language).

2.K-2-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same design problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each object performs.

Visual Arts 2.2, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6

ELA, Grade 2 Speaking and Listening Standards [SL] & Language Standards [L]

  • Comprehension and Collaboration
  • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
  • Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

Shakey Cakey Makey Breaky!

Subject: Physics, Art
Grade Level: 11-12
Standards:  MA STE, Art & ELA (Common Core)

By Richard Cohen

Over the weekend, my daughter and I made a cake to take to a family party. It was moist, yummy and looked beautiful. But one problem arose… We lived an hour away from the party and on the ride there, the cake shifted and fell apart. What a mess!

We frantically tried to fix it but all of our efforts were for nothing. It was a disaster. If only we had something that could store a cake and protect it during the stop and go of a car ride. Hmmmmm?

Your task is to design, build and test a device to protect a cake. Well, a cupcake to start with. The test will happen on one of my robots as it journeys around the room. There will be stops and starts, inclines and declines and the winning design will preserve the integrity of the cupcake best.

STE, ELA & Art Standards 

HS-PS2-3. Apply scientific principles of motion and momentum to design, evaluate, and refine a device that minimizes the force on a macroscopic object during a collision.*

HS-PS2-2. Use mathematical representations to show that the total momentum of a system of interacting objects is conserved when there is no net force on the system. 

RCA-ST.9-10.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words. 

Art: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work. Describe how decisions about how a media artwork is presented are connected to what the student wants to express, evoke, or communicate. (F.MA.P.06)

Cacophonous Conundrums

Subject:  Science, Tech/Eng, Music
Grade Level: 6
Standards: MA STE, Music & ELA (Common Core)

By Lee Burgess

It’s the year 2035 and you’re beginning your first day of the new semester as an in-school symphony educator. As part of your duties as a full-time Springfield Symphony member, you are assigned to a local middle school to begin teaching and mentoring beginning musicians.

On your first day, you realize a major problem: Your students are playing consistently with no sense of intonation (being in-tune). You will get together with 2 of your fellow symphony teaching artists (classmates) and develop 1 to 3 reproducible remedies for intonation. By the end of this project, you will be able to perform your first five notes in tune, perform as a trio a simple tune, and present the remedy you developed for superior intonation.


STE, ELA & Music Standards

6.MS-PS4-1. Use diagrams of a simple wave to explain that (a) a wave has a repeating pattern with a specific amplitude, frequency, and wavelength, and (b) the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy of the wave.

3.3-5-ETS1-2. Generate several possible solutions to a given design problem. Compare each solution based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the design problem.*

WCA-6-8.9 Draw evidence from informational texts (and scientific tools) to support analysis, interpretation, reflection, and research

Music 6th Grade: Performing-5. Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.

Cacophonous Conundrums banner Subject: Science,Music,STEM Grade Level: 6 Standards: MA STE, Music & ELA (Common Core)