Center for Creative Energy


Creative Collaborations

Student learning through Art/Science Fusion

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about collaboration, especially after a successful bout of Art/Science Fusion.  Lillian’s post about STEM to STEAM led me to consider how important it is for educators to find common ground between disciplines so that the strengths of each can create a dynamic learning experience for students.

The big questions we ask ourselves here at the Center for Creative Energy while we develop curriculum are:

How do art and science connect?

How can these connections help our students create?

Create what? Artworks, inventions, new ideas, ground breaking research, a new museum exhibition? The challenge here is to successfully collaborate without using one discipline as just a tool to teach about the other. The UCRA and SAMFA try to meet this challenge through our programs, but it often takes some creative collaboration to make sure students are participating in a truly interdisciplinary program.

There is a lot of discussion about how the arts help students build observation skills, recognize and invent patterns, and to imagine and think creatively. These arguments are usually designed to stress how important the arts are to scientific progress. This argument is less commonly reversed to argue that scientific progress also leads to great art. However, I don’t believe education is only about teaching one subject for the benefit of another.

In education policy, as Lillian noted, disciplines that will advance our future economic viability garnish the most attention. Although I agree with Piro that the arts contribute significantly to that viability, the idealist in me wants a comprehensive education to be more than just the road to riches or a comfortable middle class life.

What if STEAM was about ensuring students become creative, engaged, thoughtful and empathetic citizens with a broad understanding of what makes up our world both physically and culturally?

I understand this last sentence is rather mushy, and dodges the meaty politics that ensue when defining education policy. Developing education policy has proven to be an arduous collaboration between many stakeholders with competing interests.

However, collaboration is defined as a group of people or institutions working together towards a common goal. So in the interest of inspiration, I would like to pose one last question:

As educators committed to interdisciplinary learning through STEAM, what are our common goals for our students?



Advertisements

Lessons About Water

San Angelo had a crazy snow/ice storm last week, so Art/Science Fusion readjusted scheduling to make sure that SAISD 2nd graders still get the most from the program. Christy and I (Meg) shared a couple of sessions, and it got me thinking about how important water is to this program.

One of our major themes and goals for the Center of Creative Energy is to connect the curriculum to water. For the All About Texas Art/Science Fusion curriculum we use water in a couple of ways:

Laying down washes of color.

1. We’re using watercolor. Okay, a bit literal, I know…BUT Walt Davis, who is featured in the All About Texas exhibition at SAMFA, created beautiful watercolor paintings to document the journey he and his wife took around the edges of Texas. Our 2nd graders are learning some basic techniques like masking, washing, and dry brushing to create watercolor postcards of the Texas landscape. At the end of the program, the kids will exchange their postcards along with a letter sharing their thoughts about their time at the Museum and Water Education Center.

Christy and students organizing Texas wildlife according to region.

2. We’re focusing on how water (in the form of rivers and an ocean basin) helps create the shape of Texas. This naturally leads to a great discussion about how ecologically diverse Texas is. Texas has 7 ecologically unique regions featuring deserts, swamps, canyons, prairies, and beaches.

Why does Texas have such an awesome terrain? Because different amounts and kinds of water (salt vs. fresh) can create different ecosystems and landforms. Of course, Texas being really, really big helps a lot!

As we continue to teach this program, we hope that students are starting to think about the important role both water and art play in their lives.

If you have a moment with your students, ask them why water is important. Then, feel free to share those responses in the comment section below.

Thanks, everyone!

–Meg


First Week Highlights

Well, the first week of Art/Science Fusion has come to an end,  and the All About Texas Road Trip Tour was lots of fun.  Below is a PDF of the tour outline, a PowerPoint presentation of the featured artworks, and some photos of our “trip” so you can get a feel for the week.

We would love for educators to use this tour in their own classrooms, especially if your students are learning about Texas, different art mediums, or plant life and animal habitats.

Also, it’s a great exhibition, so if you can’t make it out to San Angelo to see it, you can save some gas and view it in the download (although art in real life is ALWAYS better…)

All_About_Texas_Road Trip Tour Guide

All About Texas Tour Ppt.

If you do use these resources, we would love to hear your feedback and any creative uses or new ideas you may have added.  Feel free to post below, or email me at megan@samfa.org.

chatting about Mary Baxter's work

sketching a view of the Concho River



%d bloggers like this: