Arts integration into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subject areas is currently an important area of investigation. This study developed a grounded theory of how artmaking of a mobile related to fossil life of the Devonian period engendered geoscience inquiry. Data were collected from elementary students entering fourth to sixth grade (7 male, 9 female) attending a week-long summer camp at a Midwestern university. Students engaged in a daily hour-long class creating fossil mobiles and learning geoscience content through illustrated slide shows, form and function sets of materials related to Devonian fossils, fossil books, and a fossil hunter- fossil find matching game. The art fossil mobile was constructed of painted dowel rods suspended from a beaded string with four craft fossils (traced onto clear plastic and back-painted or stenciled onto canvas) attached to the ends of the rods. The grounded theory research design identified seven major repeating interactions among the triad of art, science, and students: (1) art promoting science inquiry, (2) art aspects positively influencing science learning, (3) science learning increasing interest in fossils, (4) science influencing art, (5) student-centered artwork increasing desire for more art knowledge, (6) student-centered art providing connections to science, and (7) student-centered science increasing interest in fossils. Implications for educators include integrating art activities into science lessons, thereby providing engagement and motivation for students, supporting students’ fine motor skills development, and building a community of learners. Geoscience educators should consider the positive cyclical effects of art-science-student interactions identified in this study.
Teske, J. K., Clausen, C. K., Parpucu, H., Gray, P. & Rule, A. C. (2018). Fossil mobiles: Exploring the process of art as science inquiry for elementary students through a grounded theory study. Journal of STEM Arts, Crafts, and Constructions, 4(1), 148-165.