"Science and Art in the Science Class"

*Patricia Monzón [NEST ‘00]*

[These are comments about the workshop Patricia presented last June in the NEST program at MIT. *“I want to thank the teachers that participated in the
workshop for their enthusiasm, work and patience, Roberto Borda for his kindness and help and, finally, Ellie Bonsaint for everything!!!”*]

The workshop entitled “Artistic and Creative Projects and Science Learning” was presented to NEST teachers last June at MIT. My first aim was sharing
the didactic proposal I had been implementing in my high school classes over the last five years. But I had another goal, too. I wanted to generate a
space of reflection between science teachers about innovative proposals in class, going deeper into the theoretical frame and analyzing the results in
order to reproduce the successful experiences and to improve the others.

I was very anxious before the workshop. It would be in English while I speak Spanish, and I would be working with adults – other science teachers. Of
course, there were differences between this experience and my schoolroom experiences. My students and I work on this for two months, but during the
workshop we only has one hour. This was only one of the differences!

Before describing what happened during the workshop, I would like to explain why I decided to work with my teenage students on *artistic projects*. In
fact, they also do experiments, traditional reports and problem-solving in my class during the school year. However, they sometimes have a bad attitude
toward science, they are not engaged in the learning process and they do not want to change their previous knowledge. I wanted them to be curious and to work with enthusiasm, being more engaged in their learning. It was very important to me that they employed metacognitive processes and I also
believe that an emotional effort could facilitate their commitment.

I analyzed this didactic proposal for my master’s degree research on Cognitive Psychology and Learning. I found that the production of artistic
projects allowed students to put into use strategies of self-regulation, to transform some aspects of their epistemic conceptions, to mobilize their
knowledge and to make sense of science. Taking into account that students have different personal characteristics, activities using different
abilities can facilitate their engagement in their learning processes. I think it would be very fruitful for science education to offer students the
possibility of imagining different scenes, of creating solutions to open problems and of generating new things.

Given this background, let me now describe the workshop at MIT. Teachers formed interdisciplinary groups, combining biology, physics, chemistry,
environmental science and math teachers. Each group picked a card with a science subject and had to create an artistic task based on that topic,
respecting the specific vocabulary of the science. Each group had a guideline and a paper to write a log that recorded the process. This stage
was very important for generating metacognition processes and for the second step of the activity. They recorded every step they took, each decision they made, problems they had, needs identified, queries about the process, the actual task and thoughts about scientific subjects and doubts about the
science subjects. The groups created poems, performances, songs and drawings based on the following topics: *Phydias’ number (the golden ratio)*; *
Molecule*; *Oxidation*; *Waves*; *Reflection* *in Optics*; and A*ngles.*

I observed with pleasure that teachers worked hard, first sharing their previous knowledge about the topic, and then creating an artistic project
based on their topic. In the second step of the activity, each group passed the artistic task to another group. They then analyzed the projects,
recognizing the science subject and the way the group used the scientific topic. Each group had to discuss how teachers can use the artistic
production to teach these subjects. Finally, a representative of each group had to make a report, emphasizing problems they had during the first step,
commenting on their work by using the log. We did not have enough time to do all of that in a comfortable way, but the groups did share their artistic
projects with everybody, showing the GREAT results of their work.

After the workshop, I talked to some of the teachers. I was very interested in their opinions and conclusions about the didactic activity. Besides, I
wanted to know if they were going to apply it. Some of them told me they had implemented similar proposals with their students, but maybe they had not
shared them with other teachers and they had not thought about the consequences and influence in science education.

In closing, I am very interested in keeping in touch with those teachers who participated in the workshop and are planning to apply this proposal. My
email is patriciaarwyen@gmail.com <patriciaaryen@gmail.com> and my web site is *http://www.patriciamonzon.com.ar/index.html. I would like to share the comments and analysis of this proposal and different proposals based on the creation of artistic projects.