Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Tatsuo Miyajima is a Japanese contemporary artist who creates artworks using light and numbers. In this lesson, his work acts as a stimulus for student exploration of electrical circuits and prompts them to explore how light can be used as a form of artistic expression. This is a STEAM lesson, which adds the Arts to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). To find out more about STEAM and STEM click here.

This STEAM lesson demonstrates how science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics are interrelated. The lesson requires students to draw on and develop skills from all areas to complete their project.

Learning intentions: Students can…

  • … understand how art can be made using creative mediums.
  • … understand how simple circuits work.

21st-century skills: 

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 5 Science

  • Light from a source forms shadows and can be absorbed, reflected and refracted (ACSSU080).

Year 6 Science

  • Electrical energy can be transferred and transformed in electrical circuits and can be generated from a range of sources (ACSSU097).

Year 5 and 6 Visual Arts

  • Explore ideas and practices used by artists, including practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, to represent different views, beliefs and opinions (ACAVAM114).
  • Develop and apply techniques and processes when making their artworks (ACAVAM115).

Year 5 and 6 Design and Technologies

  • Investigate how electrical energy can control movement, sound or light in a designed product or system (ACTDEK020).

Year 5 Mathematics

  • Use a grid reference system to describe locations. Describe routes using landmarks and directional language (ACMMG113).
  • Describe translations, reflections and rotations of two-dimensional shapes. Identify line and rotational symmetries (ACMMG114).
  • Estimate, measure and compare angles using degrees. Construct angles using a protractor (ACMMG112).

Year 6 Mathematics

  • Solve problems involving the comparison of lengths and areas using appropriate units (ACMMG137).
  • Investigate combinations of translations, reflections and rotations, with and without the use of digital technologies (ACMMG142).
  • Investigate, with and without digital technologies, angles on a straight line, angles at a point and vertically opposite angles. Use results to find unknown angles (ACMMG141).

Syllabus outcomes: ST3-6PW, VAS3.1, VAS3.2, ST3-6PW, ST3-7PW, MA3‑1WM, MA3‑2WM, MA3‑3WM, MA3-9MG, MA3-10MG, MA3-15MG, MA3-16MG, MA3-17MG.

General capabilities: Literacy, Numeracy, Critical and Creative Thinking.

Relevant parts of Year 5 Science Achievement Standards: By the end of Year 5 students explain everyday phenomena associated with the transfer of light. They use equipment in ways that are safe and improve the accuracy of their observations. 

Relevant parts 6 Science Achievement Standards: By the end of Year 6 studdents analyse requirements for the transfer of electricity and describe how energy can be transformed from one form to another when generating electricity. They identify variables to be changed and measured and describe potential safety risks when planning methods.

Relevant parts of Year 5 and 6 Design and Technologies Achievement Standards: Students describe a range of needs, opportunities or problems and define them in terms of functional requirements. They plan, design, test, modify and create digital solutions that meet intended purposes including user interfaces and a visual program. Students plan and document processes and resources and safely produce designed solutions for each of the prescribed technologies contexts.

Relevant parts of the Year 5 and 6 Visual Arts Achievement Standards: By the end of Year 6, students explain how ideas are communicated in artworks they make and to which they respond. They describe characteristics of artworks from different social, historical and cultural contexts that influence their art making. Students structure elements and processes of arts subjects to make artworks that communicate meaning. They work collaboratively to share artworks for audiences, demonstrating skills and techniques.

Relevant parts of the Year 5 Mathematics Achievement Standards: By the end of Year 5, Students connect three-dimensional objects with their two-dimensional representations. They describe transformations of two-dimensional shapes and identify line and rotational symmetry. Students use a grid reference system to locate landmarks. They measure and construct different angles. 

Relevant parts of the Year 6 Mathematics Achievement Standards: By the end of Year 6, Students describe combinations of transformations. They solve problems using the properties of angles.

Topic: STEAM.

Unit of work: STEAM Made Simple – Primary

Time required: 120 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – The level of teacher support required in this lesson will vary depending on the students’ scientific understanding and their ability to develop ideas in open-ended tasks.

Resources required:


Keywords: STEAM, STEM, light, circuit, wire, battery, path, series, parallel, elements of art, design principles.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... understand how art can be made using creative mediums.
  • ... understand how simple circuits work.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... create simple series and parallel circuits.
  • ... describe the movement of electricity through a simple series and parallel circuit.
  • ... use simple circuits to create a work of art using light.

Teacher content information:

STEAM Education

Over recent years, the importance of STEM has been heavily promoted and discussed within fields of education. This has been within the context of ensuring that the next generation of students are provided with relevant knowledge and skills for the 21st century. STEM acknowledges the importance of the interrelated nature of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and the prominence of these skills in a world of continuous technological advancement.

What was missing from this original acronym, however, was an acknowledgement of th

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