When we talk about primary school ART classes, we often think of the traditional visual arts and practical skills lessons. However, at Avenor, we’ve taken a step further in approaching these classes, developing a new media curriculum centered on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) for grades Pregătitoare – 4 to ensure our students have experiences that help them develop a wide range of skills, from critical thinking to creativity and problem-solving, skills that will assist them in their everyday lives.

Dr. Bogdan Topârceanu, Art Teacher at Avenor, shares in the interview below his approach to these classes and the long-term impact aimed for in students’ development.


What is STEAM Education? 

STEAM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) is an interdisciplinary approach to learning that integrates these disciplines in a transversal and applied manner. This approach promotes learning through exploration, discovery, and problem-solving, with the aim of developing critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills. By integrating STEAM components into the art education curriculum, students no longer study a single discipline but develop their skills in an interdisciplinary manner, enhancing their thinking and imagination through a unified understanding of the world, rather than accumulating isolated knowledge. They become capable of using knowledge and skills from the field of arts in congruence with those acquired in other subjects to investigate, explore, and find ideas and solutions to real problems.


What are the concrete advantages of integrating this type of education into the curriculum? 

STEAM Education emphasizes practical, experiential, and collaborative activities in which students are actively involved in the learning process. They are encouraged to take rational risks, try, and fail, learning from their own mistakes. This approach prepares them for the real world, where the ability to solve complex problems, collaborate with others, and think critically are valuable skills. 

Through STEAM education, students develop their imagination and creativity, learning to find innovative solutions and express their ideas in an original and artistic way. They learn to apply creative concepts in real contexts and understand the role of technology in the modern world. The STEAM approach prepares students for the challenges and opportunities of a constantly changing and progressing society. This type of education is an effective way to develop the competencies and skills needed for success in a knowledge and technology-based world, stimulating critical thinking, creativity, and innovation.

How does the ART curriculum evolve from Pregătitoare to grade 4? 

The curriculum is designed so that students have conceptual continuity both horizontally, across a school year, and vertically, from one year to the next. It should be noted that the technology and interdisciplinary part are mediated through tablets that children are encouraged to use for educational purposes from Pregătitoare. Typically, children spend time online, and the idea behind the program is to help them develop skills that will allow them to convert this time into multimedia creation time. Once students learn the applications, education and the learning process continue beyond the classroom. 

This familiarity with new technologies begins in Pregătitoare. Starting with the senses and how we perceive the world, we introduce, in addition to classical painting, modeling, collage, and drawing techniques, elements of new media through interdisciplinary mobile applications. Thus, students learn to create stop-motion animation, 3D voxel modeling (similar to the construction in Minecraft, another game we use for educational purposes for children familiar with it), digital painting with interactive substances, and interdisciplinary experiments that combine sound and color. From the first demonstrations with Pregătitoare students, children managed to exceed expectations by quickly learning both the technology aspect and the physical aspect, such as directing and creating a photographic sequence that can later be assembled as a GIF. 

Grade 1 represents a year of consolidating knowledge, where students receive, in addition to new exercises in already known applications, a new 3D modeling application with more complex shapes, where they begin to build characters. This initiative prepares them for grade 2, where they have an entire module of world-building, character design, and team storytelling, culminating in a comic book, costumes, sets, and a film written and directed by them. Grade 3 brings 3D models into reality, being the first year when children are skilled enough to produce digital elements that can be 3D printed and used later for an extensive product design project. Additionally, they learn digital animation, which helps them create a series of advertisements. Grade 4 concludes the five years with a recap of all techniques and skills in an extensive Game Design module. 


Therefore, at the end of these five years, Avenor students are fluent in multiple techniques, both analog and digital: multiple animation techniques (stop-motion, paper motion, rotoscoping, Lego animation, frame-by-frame animation), clay modeling and 3D modeling, drawing, painting, and collage, both on paper and tablets. All these skills are always associated with real-life applicability examples: logo design, packaging, advertising campaigns, set production, costumes, and film, character design, worlds, and games.

Over the years, what have been the most innovative, interesting, or simply surprising projects carried out by students?

The most complex projects are those of product and game design in grades 3 and 4. 

Children have the opportunity to combine many manufacturing and production methods in a single project that challenges both their imagination and thinking skills and knowledge. They learn to work in teams and gain autonomy in decisions they learn to justify. They go through periods of art history that they then reinterpret and recontextualise as part of a game or create small business projects that they later illustrate in creative ways. The introduction of augmented reality in the grade 4 project brings mixed reality into the equation of teaching methods used in class.