Steampunk: A Transdisciplinary Learning Approach

Term: 2 Year: 2020

Collaborating with classroom teachers enables learning to go beyond the specialist lesson. It allows them to use what they are learning about the world to create artwork that has context. This is the journey I took with 84 Year 6 students over 12 weeks, as we explored the sub-genre of Steampunk.

I chose to investigate the sub-genre of Steampunk as it allowed students to inquire into life in the past and make connections to the now. My central idea for Art became “Technologies from the 19th century is a source of inspiration for artists”, after coming across a wonderful Zart Online Education workshop by Hamish Betts on Steampunk.

The task was for students to imagine they were living 200 years into the future. With sustainability in mind we used recyclable materials and wooden gears to make the machine panel, placing emphasis on texture. Students used glue guns to fasten the junk materials. The entire plate was then painted with burnt umber and left to dry. A dry brush technique of red oxide paint then followed. To finish the piece students used gold/bronze “rub and buff” to add shine and bronzing to their plate. This brought out all the textures and gave an aged effect. We focused on texture, assembly and painted finish.

Being familiar with the technique students could now use their knowledge to build Steampunk robots. The learning intention was to transfer their knowledge and understanding from previous experiences to construct a robot from recyclable materials in Steampunk style. Students used glue guns to construct the robot and used the same painting technique as the machine plate to finish their work. When complete all robots were exhibited. The students were very proud of their work and I was amazed at some of the incredible detailing and affects the students were able to achieve.

I have found the Zart online professional learning workshops to be a wonderful source of inspiration to adapt to units of inquiry.

Sharon Lynch
Visual Arts Coordinator, R-6 IB PYP
Myrtleford P-12 College
Immanuel Primary School
Nova Gardens, South Australia