Science and art

Click here for the Table of Contents


I must say that I really enjoyed this issue. Helping students see the connections and relationships between science and other subjects and interests is a wonderful part of being a teacher. Illustrations, diagrams, field sketches, photographs, videography, and performances are relevant ways for students to explore connections between science and art and authentic opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of concepts. And the arts should definitely be considered a core content area, not an “extra” to be cut from the budget.
One of my fondest memories of my middle school teaching days was working in collaboration with the art teacher (who sadly passed away a few years ago). He would have enjoyed Avenues for Inspiration: Integrating the life and work of nature artists into middle school science. The article describes the works of four nature artists (including Maria Sibylla Merian, John James Audubon, Wilson A. “Snowflake” Bentley, and Andy Goldsworthy) with links to more on these and others (such as Ansel Adams). The authors include a rubric for student art projects. [SciLinks: Snowflakes]

My colleague would also have enjoyed Enhancing Science Education Through Art (with Seurat as the illustration). Rather than a single lesson or activity, the author discusses the relationship between art and science in terms of characteristics such as creativity, curiosity, the use of tools, and using visuals as communication. There is a section on using art for assessment (not only the visual arts, but also video, music, and performance).
The NSTA listserves sometimes have requests from teachers asking for songs that will help students remember facts, definitions, or other concepts. Learning Science Using Music describes a teacher’s efforts to create songs to help students learn through music. These can be very powerful – I still remember rules for Latin grammar from songs that Sister Euphemia taught us in class. Perhaps it would be even more relevant (and creative) for students to create the songs?
Designing solutions for problems is another form of creativity. Two articles describe activities and investigations that foster that kind of creativity:  Charcoal—Can It Corral Chlorine?  [SciLinks: Water Quality, Water Pollution and Conservation] and  Environmental Literacy Through Relationships: Connecting Biomes and Society in a Sustainable City [SciLinks: Biomes,  Sustainable Development]
Are you looking for ideas for interdisciplinary activities? Art in Motion: A Sailboat Regatta has resources for a 5E lesson. Apps for Ancient Civilizations sounds anachronistic, but students would have some fun creating tools based on current technology. I know a social studies teacher I’m going to share this with! Creating a smART Camp has suggestions for summer enrichment or a club.
Science is full of beautiful images, from living things to microscopic views to the solar system. The illustration of the earth’s magnetic field that accompanies the activities in Polar Misunderstandings: Earth’s Dynamic Dynamo is such an image. [SciLinks: Magnetic Fields] I had a high school colleague who insisted that the students needed a “unit” on the microscope. It didn’t matter that in elementary and middle school students had many experiences with microscopes; they still had to go through labeling diagrams and taking a quiz on the parts. Making Art with Microscopes shows how to integrate learning about the microscope with the purposeful goal of observing and learning about cells. [SciLinks: Microscope]
Websites and trade books have many suggestions for arts-and-crafts science activities, but I wonder how students make the connection between the activity and the concept. For example, I visited a class where 5th-grade students were making bracelets out of beads following a pattern based on DNA molecules. They enjoyed the activity, but I’m not quite sure what science concepts they were learning. I’m hoping the teacher helped them to see the connections in a later class.
SciLinks has collections of websites with background information and activities related to several other articles in this issue: Trash Talk: How to Compost Safely [SciLinks: Composting], Comet Watch [SciLinks: Comets]
On a seasonal note, The Halloween Lab has suggestions for activities related to oobleck, slime, and bubbling cauldrons.

This entry was posted in SciLinks and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *