Interfaces between natural sciences and art

Interdisciplinary course in primary school

The aim of this action research study was to assess how I could develop an interdisciplinary curriculum of geology and physics using an artistic approach.
During the process, I reflected on my own practices and formed my theory of practice based on my interests and experience within the field. For this purpose, art workshops were held in cooperation with the developmental project LÁN. 
The main focus of the workshops was to work with clay and Icelandic minerals using out-of-classroom learning methods with the upper primary school classes.
The Earth is one big rock, and we live on a volcanic island, yet few of us understand the geology around us. Thus, we headed the workshops with questions such as whether it would be possible to turn an ordinary grey rock into a beautiful glaze. The workshops consisted of a varied array of experiments which were based in student focused teaching methods.
The curriculum was based on the guidelines set by the Icelandic national curriculum for compulsory schools, with an added emphasis on the interleaving of arts and science. The theoretical background the workshops were built on included Dewey’s theories on learning by doing. I sought to create a space where students would learn about their natural surroundings and become more interested in nature. I emphasized the educational value of the aesthetics of sensation and perception.
I used a variety of teaching methods, including out-of-classroom learning, cooperative learning, and demonstration. As an example, I associated clay firing with volcanoes by discussing the physics and chemistry involved when clay is fired at 1250°C which is about the temperature of a volcanic eruption. We also headed outside and collected various materials for creating glazes and discussed the associated geology.
Experimental projects and reliefs were made from clay using minerals and growth found during outside excursions. During analysis, I used McNiff’s methodology, which is based in reflecting on our own teaching methods and the students’ reaction to the curriculum.
By using an interdisciplinary approach, I managed to successfully mirror my background as a ceramics designer, geology enthusiast and mountain guide into the curriculum. During the results section I also discuss how this process has strengthened me as a professional.


Hanna Gréta Pálsdóttir
hannagreta [at]
Advisor: Dr. Ásthildur B. Jónsdóttir
Department of Arts Education