Activity Introduction

Quick summary: 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. Origami is a traditional Japanese art form, but did you know that it has a significant influence on engineering and design? Origami techniques have been used to solve an array of design challenges in which electrical or mechanical resources need to be transported in small spaces, such as telescopes being sent to space. In this lesson, students will explore the relevance of origami to the fields of science and engineering. They will then learn selected origami techniques and apply their new learning to create 3D art. Through this process, students will engage with the interconnected nature of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, what we commonly speak of in education as STEAM.

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

Learning intentions: Students will…

  • … understand how origami techniques can be applied to science, technology, art, engineering and mathematics.

21st-century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 5 Mathematics

  • Connect three-dimensional objects with their nets and other two-dimensional representations (ACMMG111).
  • 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).
  • Choose appropriate units of measurement for length, area, volume, capacity and mass (ACMMG108).
  • Calculate perimeter and area of rectangles using familiar metric units (ACMMG109).

Year 6 Mathematics

  • 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).
  • Solve problems involving the comparison of lengths and areas using appropriate units (ACMMG137).

Year 5 and 6 Design and Technologies

  • Examine how people in design and technologies occupations address competing considerations, including sustainability in the design of products, services, and environments for current and future use (ACTDEK019).
  • Investigate characteristics and properties of a range of materials, systems, components, tools and equipment and evaluate the impact of their use (ACTDEK023).
  • Critique needs or opportunities for designing, and investigate materials, components, tools, equipment and processes to achieve intended designed solutions (ACTDEP024).
  • Generate, develop and communicate design ideas and processes for audiences using appropriate technical terms and graphical representation techniques (ACTDEP025).

Year 5 and 6 Visual Arts

  • Develop and apply techniques and processes when making their artworks (ACAVAM115).
  • Plan the display of artworks to enhance their meaning for an audience (ACAVAM116).

Year 5 English

  • Understand how texts vary in purpose, structure and topic as well as the degree of formality (ACELA1504).

Year 6 English

  • Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, choosing and experimenting with text structures, language features, images and digital resources appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY1714).
  • Use a range of software, including word processing programs, learning new functions as required to create texts (ACELY1717).

Syllabus outcomes: MA3-9MG, MA3-10MG, MA3-14MG, MA3-15MG, MA3-16MG, MA3-1WM, MA3‑2WM, MA3‑3WMST3-14BE, ST3-13MW, ST3-5WTVAS3.1, VAS3.2EN3-2A, EN3-3A

General capabilities: Literacy, Numeracy.

Relevant parts of Year 5 Mathematics Achievement Standards: Students connect three-dimensional objects with their two-dimensional representations. They describe transformations of two-dimensional shapes and identify line and rotational symmetry. 

Relevant parts of Year 6 Mathematics Achievement Standards: They use appropriate units of measurement for length, area, volume, capacity and mass, and calculate perimeter and area of rectangles.

Relevant parts of Year 5 and 6 Design and Technologies Achievement Standards: By the end of Year 6, students describe competing considerations in the design of products, services and environments, taking into account sustainability. They describe how design and technologies contribute to meeting present and future needs. Students explain how the features of technologies impact on designed solutions for each of the prescribed technologies contexts.
Students create designed solutions for each of the prescribed technologies contexts suitable for identified needs or opportunities. They suggest criteria for success, including sustainability considerations, and use these to evaluate their ideas and designed solutions. They combine design ideas and communicate these to audiences using graphical representation techniques and technical terms. Students record project plans including production processes. They select and use appropriate technologies and techniques correctly and safely to produce designed solutions.

Relevant parts of Year 5 and 6 Visual Arts Achievement Standards: By the end of Year 6, students explain how ideas are represented in artworks they make and view. They describe the influences of artworks and practices from different cultures, times and places on their art making. Students use visual conventions and visual arts practices to express a personal view in their artworks. They demonstrate different techniques and processes in planning and making artworks. They describe how the display of artworks enhances meaning for an audience.

Relevant parts of Year 5 English Achievement Standards: Students use language features to show how ideas can be extended. They develop and explain a point of view about a text, selecting information, ideas and images from a range of resources.

Relevant parts of Year 6 English Achievement Standards: Students create detailed texts elaborating on key ideas for a range of purposes and audiences. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using a variety of strategies for effect.

Topic: STEAM.

Unit of work: STEAM Made Simple – Primary

Time required: 120 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: medium – teacher scaffolding may be required at different points throughout the lessons for students who face specific challenges. This could include difficulty folding, or difficulty developing artistic ideas.

Resources required: 

  • Access to digital devices (for students who wish to explore additional folds).
  • Boxboard (one piece per student)
  • Device capable of presenting a video to the class
  • Icy-pole sticks and matchsticks to stabilise architectural designs
  • Origami Folds Step by Step Instructions (one copy per two students, or equipment to project to the whole class)
  • Origami Handbook 
  • Various matte kinder squares and circles, small and large sizes (or origami paper cut to size)

Note: a minimum of 1 large kinder circle, 1 small kinder square and 1 large kinder circle are required per student to complete origami explorations, but a variety of additional colours and sizes are needed for students to complete the design task. 


Keywords: STEAM, STEM, technology, engineering, design, origami, design solutions, problem-solving, artistic representation, art elements, art 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 origami techniques can be applied to science, technology, art, engineering, and mathematics.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... explain in their own words how origami techniques are useful in the fields of science, engineering and design.
  • ... explain in their own words how science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics are interconnected.
  • ... create an architectural model using paper folding techniques.
  • ... explain the folding techniques they have used to create their model.
  • ... explain art elements and/or principles considered in the creation of architectural design.


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. ST

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