Renaissance in the Classroom: Arts Integration and Meaningful Learning

By Gail Burnaford; Arnold Aprill et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Science and Art:
Lessons From Leonardo da Vinci?
Diane Deckert

This chapter illustrates theinto, through, and beyond components of arts integration outlined in this book.Thanks to Wendy Anderson, Ed Metzl, and Elena Robles, science teachers in Chicago Public Schools, for their rich contributions.


DANCING WITH LEONARDO

What could art have to do with science? This question reflects the conflict between these two ways of looking at the world that exists in the minds of many people today. Yet that conflict hasn't always existed. When science in Europe was starting to take shape as a discipline during the Renaissance, it was considered a close relative of art. One person who exemplified the connection between art and science was Leonardo da Vinci, who combined his exploration of the natural world with his artistic expression through drawing, painting, and sculpture. Since Leonardo's time, science and art have been divorced, with science usually seen as rational and analytical and art often considered subjective and emotional. So what could art possibly have to do with science?

That question is easy to answer when you visit Ed Metzl's classroom at Lincoln Park High School. Students in his physics class are bending and stretching to warm up for their day's work with dancer Peter Sciscioli from Hedwig Dances. In one recent session, the students explored the concepts of average velocity and acceleration as they performed a series of going-across-the-floor exercises. They measured the distance and the time it took to either walk, run, or perform their movement phrase from one point to another in the room.

Today they examine Newton's Laws of Motion. As they stand motionless, Peter explains that they are experiencing how an object with no net force acting on it remains at rest. Next, they push a partner across the room, experiencing what level of force is required when the partner is first walking and then running. Again, Peter makes the connection to the concept—he describes how the pushing represents

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