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Art Science Fusion Program, UC Davis

A new paradigm for education is sprouting in the Northern California landscape. Students in the Art Science Fusion Program at the University of California, Davis, connect the patterns, harmonies, symbols and perceptions that are shared across borders and disciplines. ...

Engineering vs. Liberal Arts: Who’s Right—Bill or Steve?

When students asked what subjects they should major in to become a tech entrepreneur, I used to say engineering, mathematics, and science—because an education in these fields is the prerequisite for innovation, and because engineers make the best entrepreneurs....

Science Teachers Love Art

John M. EgerHuffington Post

Lionel Van Deerlin Professor of Communications and Public Policy,
San Diego State

Posted: March 21, 2011 02:14 PM

There is a growing debate in America about art and science.

Explaining the Universe: Why Arts Education and Science Education Need Each Other author, scientist, and educator, Alan Friedman, says, “I am a science educator who finds this story (of the Universe) deeply fascinating and profound.” But most children do not know this story. ‘The solution is not just finding more good science teachers and developing good science curricula, but also encouraging more and better arts education.”

Recently, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), issued a paper called “Reaching Students Through STEM and the Arts.”

The paper states, “Teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are discovering that by adding an “A” — the arts — to STEM, learning will pick up STEAM.”

They are of course talking about former president George W. Bush’s initiative called the America Competes Act, also known as the STEM initiative for Science Technology Engineering and Math.

That bill authorized $151 million to help students earn a bachelor’s degree, math and science teachers to get teaching credentials, and provide additional money to help align kindergarten through grade 12 math and science curricula to better prepare students for college.

Now, three years later, more and more people are asking why just math and science? Why not the arts, too?

Turning STEM into STREAM: Writing as an Essential Component of Science Education

By: Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein
Date: March 16, 2011

There is a movement afoot to turn the acronym STEM—which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—into STEAM by adding the arts. Science educators have finally begun to realize that the skills required by innovative STEM professionals include arts and crafts thinking. Visual thinking; recognizing and forming patterns; modeling; getting a “feel” for systems; and the manipulative skills learned by using tools, pens, and brushes are all demonstrably valuable for developing STEM abilities. And the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts have gotten the message: formal meetings between the two agencies have begun in order to figure out how to fund productive research and teaching at the intersection of these sets of disciplines.

Since words are our primary means of communicating, anyone who has not mastered their creative use is simply underprepared for any discipline, including STEM subjects.

The agencies also realized that adding the arts to STEM is not enough. We also need to add the thinking skills embodied in reading and writing. STEAM may condense into STREAM!

Writing, like any other art, teaches the entire range of “tools for thinking” that are required to be creative in any discipline (Root-Bernstein and Root-Bernstein 1999). To be a lucid writer, one must observe acutely; abstract out the key information; recognize and create patterns; use analogies and metaphors to model in words some reality that takes place in another dimension; translate sensations, feelings, and hunches into clearly communicable forms; and combine all this sensual information into words that create not only understanding but also delight, remorse, anger, desire, or any other human emotion that will drive understanding into action.

Think about it: what we’ve just described is what a scientist or mathematician does too.

Princeton’s – Art of Science

The Art of Science exhibition explores the interplay between science and art. These practices both involve the pursuit of those moments of discovery when what you perceive suddenly becomes more than the sum of its parts. Each piece in this exhibition is, in its own...

Merging C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures

John M. EgerHuffington Post

Lionel Van Deerlin Professor of Communications and Public Policy,
San Diego State

Posted: March 17, 2011 12:12 PM

Fifty years ago, physicist-turned-novelist C.P. Snow talked about “two cultures” of physicists and writers and the “hostility and dislike” that divided the world’s “natural scientists — its chemists, engineers, physicists and biologists — from its literary intellectuals.”

He found it strange that more scientists weren’t artists and musicians and more artists lacked a similar interest in the sciences. What happened to the classically trained person? he mused. In his day (turn of the 20th century), all these subjects were “branches of the same tree.”

Yet for the last 100 years or so, it seems, things have not changed. Society rarely blurs the lines between the disciplines of art and science. You are either going to grow up an artist or musician or a scientist or mathematician — as Snow said, two distinct cultures.

That cultural divide, Natalie Angier of the New York Times reported, “continues to this day, particularly in the United States, as educators, policymakers and other observers bemoan the Balkanization of knowledge, the scientific illiteracy of the general public and the chronic academic turf wars that are all too easily lampooned.”

Can we change this divide? Can we eliminate the silos in our curriculum? Can we reinvent our systems of education to give our young people what they need to be a productive member of our society and economy?

The International PISA Tests Are Leading America Astray

John M. EgerHuffington Post

Lionel Van Deerlin Professor of Communications and Public Policy,
San Diego State

Posted: March 15, 2011 05:07 PM

Yes, we need to change the education system.

Not because we tested so poorly — again — on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests. Rather, because the world has changed and we are witnessing a new, global, technology-driven, knowledge economy.

Yet, every three years when the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) tests 15-year-olds around the world in math, science and reading, we go crazy with angst and despair and promise to fix the current education system.

Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, an otherwise trustworthy spokesperson, exclaimed: “Our students scored in the middle of the pack! We are not No. 1! Shanghai is No. 1! We are doomed unless we overtake Shanghai!

The New York Times, also writing about the PISA tests, interviewed U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who said: “We have to see this as a wake-up call … I know skeptics will want to argue with the results, but we consider them to be accurate and reliable, and we have to see them as a challenge to get better,” he added. “The United States came in 23rd or 24th in most subjects. We can quibble, or we can face the brutal truth that we’re being out-educated.”

I guess we need more tests to get our students ready for the next PISA?

iCivics: How Games Can Teach Kids to be Better Citizens

“We’re hoping to create forums on our site for discussion around those activities, for recognition of particularly successful activities, and for organization of students around particular public policy issues and ways to tie the games to those issues that kids care about.”...