8 cross-curricular projects for classroom to inspire you!

Hi all and happy August - it’s back to school season! To celebrate the start of the school year we collected 8 inspiring cross-curricular projects for the classroom!

1. Random poem generator: Stream of Thoughts (Janne Mäkipuro) and Kalevala (Teppo Harju)

This project was made during Let Me Hack It, the creative coding course for teachers. As a project, random poem generator enables making and experimenting with coding, art and languages. It’s empowering, because coding education is quite seldom targeted to language teachers and students. 

Random poem generator is made with the open source coding language Processing. It’s a good tool for creating visual art and learning to code. The coder gives the poem generator lists of words or phrases, which are then randomized and drawn on the screen. If you use texts by different poets or authors you can shed light on how their writing logic work. For example, Finns will certainly recognize the rhythm of their national epic Kalevala in Teppo Harju's work! The background images in these projects are from the Open Access collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art - a great resource worth looking into!

2. Rapid Robots Workshop (Kati Hyyppä and Niklas Roy)

This workshop concept is amazing in many ways. Creating a delightful, accepting atmosphere for making things together is the key focus, and recycled materials and everyday items are utilised in a humorous way. Such a variety of materials leads to unique results! These robots are based on Arduino boards and programming, but you can apply the workshop concept to other technologies as well. It will likely work just fine even if you had only batteries and DC motors at hand.  Robotics is a relevant theme in crafts, art and physics but getting cross-curricular makes things really interesting. How about addressing topics from biology or physical education along the way? 

Check out the final awards on the video, too! Competitions are motivating to many, but using hilarious award categories like “The Least Likely Robot to Pass Turing Test” will make presenting your work fun and relaxed also for those who are not into competing.

3. Cross-Curricular Science Game (ctstarkdesigns)

I remember when I was in school trying to study prehistoric organisms, and I almost fell asleep. I really wanted to learn about them, but the names were long and hard to remember, so it felt boring. Gamification and phenomenon-based learning would have been the key for me.

This game about prehistoric organisms can be played by the whole school. The students get their own organisms as game characters to play with. The organisms duel with each other, and sometimes unpredictable events, such as intense storms, mix the game. The game goes on until a winner is found!

The subject of the game can be anything: biology, history etc. Visual art is included in the project, when students search for information about their organisms and create information cards and videos about them. It’s also possible to let several classes participate in the game, and enable collaboration between different grades.

4. Sewing Circuits (Colleen Graves)

Have you ever thought about combining textile design and technology? Sewing circuits is a fun way to get familiar with electronics and crafts alike! This tutorial is a good way to get started with e-textiles in the classroom.

The creative process plays an important role from the very beginning: the technology itself makes the art. Also the theory of electronics becomes more tangible when you have to think how to sew the circuit to make the item look the way you’ve designed it. This project suits well for textile crafts, physics and art - or any context where you want to do prototyping or design!

Make sure you check out the list of additional resources at the end of the tutorial - really useful stuff!

5. Perform Music with Paper and Boxes (Lauttasaari Music Institute, music technology club’s final concert)

Making sounds with movement is something we all learn as babies. Put a can of soda to table, and it makes a small knock. The exciting thing is that the sound depends on how fast you move the can, how full the can is and what the table is made of - to begin with. 

In this project, every box sounds different even if everyone starts off with the same selection of materials. It’s a challenge to attach the motor “properly”, but instead of being a problem, it creates a number of new sounds. Building a single box is a fun task but it won’t make a spectacular sound on its own. Bring several together at once and you can totally transform the soundscape of a room! As long as there is a sufficient amount of materials, you can make as many boxes as you want and the result will always sound different. 

The project was inspired by Zimoun. Watch and listen to a compilation of their art below.

6. Water Drops Macro Studio (Suki Ete)

You’d never think it’s possible to take such beautiful macro photos using just everyday items and materials and a camera! This is also an excellent group project: most schools probably don’t have cameras for every student anyway.

Test with different lights, distances and colors and you’ll learn a ton about how cameras and optics in general work. Supplement the workshop with the task to search for more information and present the findings along with the artwork.

7. See the Earth Like an Astronaut (katyf9)

Grab a globe and a bunch of fiber optics and recreate the night-time view of Earth! The outcome is more than just an elegant lamp - it’s a great collaborative project and a hands-on way to learn more about human impact on Earth. 

The project works well in geography, arts, history and social sciences: you’ll learn which are the most densely populated areas in the world. Lighting up the whole globe will take a while - make it a collaborative project and work on it as an extra assignment over a longer period of time if necessary.

NASA has excellent materials and open image resources related to night-time imagery of Earth - this article describes how these thrilling datasets are used to study land use, power outages, carbon emissions and more! 

What could the lights represent in your globe? Population, electricity or something else?

What could the lights represent in your globe? Population, electricity or something else?

8.  Build a Circuit to Detect Ripe Fruit (Science Buddies)

How do you know that the fruit you’re about to eat is ripe? Now students get to figure that out in a project that combines biology, electronics and optics - and make it automatic! You can even encourage your students to write a scientific project report.

During the project students might realise that automatisation is everywhere. It can also help them understand how automated processes continue to transform our working environment. Depending on the subject, you can choose to emphasize economic, natural scientific or behavioral and cultural aspects in the classroom.

PS: If you’re a teacher and you’re interested in creating and teaching creative technology projects, we recommend to check out letmehackit.org (in Finnish). Sign up for the online training starting in 2.9.2019 and see what other attendees have produced during the previous run! 

Teachers internationally can sign up for waiting list for the online training in English here!

Miska Kulmala