Time to break out the crayons and paint... for Science?!


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    In all of my years at school, I never once thought about incorporating science into art or found how there could be art in science. But according to this Seed Magazine blog post that may be the exact problem that is holding American children back from excelling in the science area. Think about it. We typically only draw and sculpt masterpieces based on people or ideas from other aspects of life. But when was the last time you saw a painting representing Mitosis? Probably never. But that is all about to change with the new project STEM.
     So what is STEM? STEM stands for: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These are the four areas that the Art of Science Learning is trying to infuse with art classes and applications to engage students with more passion and a desire to learn more about these areas. By incorporating creativeness and art design into science, it is researcher's hope that it will inspire more kids to become involved in the Science world.
     So, how exactly are they doing this? Well, so far they have held different conferences in San Diego, Chicago, and Washington D.C. intended for teachers to learn how to integrate art into their science-specific lesson plans. Another approach to these conferences is to encourage other art teachers to try to incorporate science into their activities. For example, Seed Magazine's blog (mentioned earlier) describes how students were asked to draw something from a Biology textbook based on memory. They could make it look however they wanted, but it had to be something like a chloroplast or DNA or whatever it was that they could find! Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but if an art teacher asked me to draw something like that, I doubt that I could! This new way of teaching is bringing to light the major disadvantage American children have as far as Science knowledge in school, and is attempting to find new, fun ways to gain student's involvement in the science world.
     Another interesting thing about the STEM project is that it not only affects Science-related materials. By incorporating the arts into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, teachers have to look at creating their lesson plans in a whole new way. There are going to be more hands-on approaches to activities to allow student's brains to take in the new information in different ways. No longer will a teacher be able to simply ramble off important facts that students have to memorize and regurgitate on an exam two weeks later. Instead, the students get to freely express how they interpret what is going on. This is good for two reasons: 1. A student gets independent feedback on exactly how they interpreted something - if they completely miss the point, then the teacher can see why or how they missed it based on that student's art representation 2. More than likely, the information will be retained easily because the student has found a way to put what would typically be thought of as boring facts into fun, interesting content. Overall, I am hoping that this STEM project really takes off because it seems to me the best way to engage students again in a subject that for a long time has gotten a lot of negative reviews.

     How do you feel about the new idea of incorporating Art into Science? Do you think that it will really be as beneficial as predicted? Or do you think that the U.S. will still fall behind the rest of the world in these areas?

Some really good sources to check out:
2. Another really good blog about STEM & what it could mean for the U.S.
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