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Our SciArt workshop at IAEA

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the 2017 IAEA conference (Illinois Art Education Association) with the company of a good friend and colleague, Taylor Poulin. We think we inspired and helped some art educators to think about creating SciArt content with and for their students while having some fun!

In our one-hour workshop, we shared our approach and techniques on SciArt storytelling and some ways of creating educational content. We used a piece of art and a scientific concept as a starting point and also infused one of our activities with Drama –how could we not?

​​We started with one of our activities by encouraging the participants to just experience an activity based on the idea of SciArt storytelling through drama. Then we analyzed the steps we followed to design that activity and we broke down its stages. We then gave cards to the teams and asked them to come up with an activity that would be based on the SciArt idea of their card. Finally, we discussed and shared our thoughts on the participants’ work. Sure, one hour wasn’t enough but I believe we all did really well!

Here is a tip that can help build a SciArt activity: find 3-5 key words or concepts, or even big ideas that your subjects can talk about. Then, see if you have any concepts that are overlapping and are common to your subjects. Finally, narrow down your big ideas to one (maybe two).

For example, in our first activity, we studied the given subject (Alexander Calder’s Flamingo, a public sculpture in downtown Chicago) and we agreed that the concepts of change and movement described best both of our subjects, both in the Flamingo and the Big Bang Theory. Since we agreed on the big ideas of movement as a change, we chose as our main activity to be the movement of the Flamingo. We asked our group: what will happen in the following 2 minutes if the flamingo were to move? And how can you represent this, using your body as a medium?

It might sound overwhelming and from my experience, the most challenging part for any educator is to grasp the two worlds -you rarely meet educators with a strong background in both Science and Art. Regardless, teachers and educators are encouraged to partner with their colleagues and trust in their students' knowledge and experience.

I remember vividly an arts teacher, trying to incorporate these two fields into his Art class. He discussed the science with his students, he trusted them and with the advice and minimum guidance of a science teacher created a dynamic I will never forget.

Here is the material from the workshop if you are interested!

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