It’s not unusual for those who are artistically inclined to profess they’re not good at science. But in many cases, it’s more a matter of not learning science in a way that’s interesting and engaging for them.
For some people, the formulas and principles that dominate science are relatively easy to grasp. It just “clicks” for them.
But for those who are more visual thinkers, those formulas and principles induce boredom or confusion. This quickly puts the kibosh on any motivation to learn the topic.
The creative person thrives with a more hands-on approach. Therefore, he or she is likely to get a better understanding of the subject when introduced ways to learn science through art.
The Arts Integration Approach
An arts integration education sets out to help students understand real world application of science through the arts.
By integrating art into science, students understand the inter-relatedness of everything they learn. This method of teaching and learning also promotes creativity and collaboration. And all of this leads to scientific literacy.
So what’s scientific literacy?
It’s the understanding of the impact science has on anything and everything from history to philosophy, physical education to geography… even the arts.
And it applies to everyone, no matter where or how they live or what language they speak. That means that gaining scientific literacy is highly advantageous for young people preparing to go into the world. Especially a world that puts such emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
Effective Ways to Learn Science through Art
Science and art are not all that different. They both require inquiry and questioning, while emphasizing the importance of exploring, discovering, critical thinking and even inventing.
So it makes sense that art can be used to teach science. We’ll look at a few ways teachers are doing this.
1. Chemical Changes
Chemistry students can head to the ceramics studio to get a first-hand account of how clay undergoes a serious chemical change.
Students place both a bisque-fired piece of clay and a greenware piece of clay in water. They’ll notice how the greenware starts to dissolve. The piece that’s been fired does not.
From there, students are fully educated on the transformation of fired clay at different temperatures in the kiln. For example, dehydration occurs at about 350 degrees C (662 degrees F). This is when the water that was part of the molecular structure disappears and the clay can no longer be reconstituted.
As things get hotter, organic and inorganic materials, such as sulphates and carbon, begin to burn off. After full dehydration comes quartz inversion. This is when the quartz crystals rearrange themselves into a slightly different order. The piece will also slightly and temporarily increase in volume.
Vitrification happens at the next level and shrinkage occurs as a result of fusion. Eventually there is hardening, tightening and then partial glassification of the clay. If the kiln is allowed to get hot enough, the clay will melt and cool as a glass.
2. Sound Waves
One of the things that most students excel at is making noise. It can be hard for them to conceptualize that noise is merely vibration though.
Using software, students can record themselves saying a sentence, singing a song or playing an instrument. The software will then show them the sound waves they’ve created.
Then they use that recording to create artwork that is more like portraiture through voice. To really emphasize just how truly one of a kind a student’s voice is, each student says the exact same words. They’re usually surprised to see how different their sound waves appear from one another’s.
3. Chemical Reactions
Most artists are no strangers to using chemicals in their work.
For example, using resin or epoxy is pretty commonplace when attempting to get a shiny finish for a piece or to cast objects.
Both epoxy and resin start in a liquid state. But they turn solid when a chemical hardener is added. Students take advantage of this chemical reaction to make interesting pieces.
Resin can be poured into a mold – whether the student wishes to make a pendent, a paperweight or something in between. Then they arrange small objects into the molds. Once they have the objects in place, they carefully mix equal parts of the resin with the chemical hardener to get just the right mixture so the resin will harden.
Any bubbles that appear can be popped with a toothpick. Or the student can use a blow dryer to make them go away (another potential lesson on how heat works in this case).
After 24 hours, the resin should be hard and the pieces ready to be removed from their molds. If it’s sticky after 48 hours, that means the resin didn’t properly cure. This gives the student an opportunity to explore what happened.
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) allow students to explore concepts like open and closed circuits and voltage. And all while adding a little light to their artwork.
Knowing they’ll be placing LEDs to an image, students create artwork with graphite or watercolor on paper. They mark where these lights will go on the back of their artwork. Then they draw lines where they’ll use copper tape. In doing this, they have to be mindful about labeling the lines positive and negative.
They get the chance to experiment with how these negative and positive lines work in tandem with batteries and the LEDs themselves. They also have the opportunity to play with different colored LEDs – learning about how some colors have lower voltage than others.
Once they master a complete circuit, their artwork is “magically” illuminated.
Learning Science Does Not Have to Be Boring
Especially now that you know there are ways to learn science through art. And the above examples are just a glimpse into the infinite ways that educators are getting creative in teaching science through art.
Are you interested in seeing for yourself how science can be more easily comprehended through art? Then contact us to see if an arts integration high school might be right for you.
We offer the same quality education and curriculum, but in a way that speaks to students who often get left behind by standardized education.
And no child should be left behind.