Editor's Corner

By Metz, Steve | The Science Teacher, October 2016 | Go to article overview

Editor's Corner


Metz, Steve, The Science Teacher


Science and the Arts

"The greatest scientists are always artists as well. "--Albert Einstein Einstein played the violin and piano, Richard Feynman the bongos. Max Planck composed songs and operas and played piano, organ, and cello. Neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal was a renowned illustrator, draftsman, and photographer. American chemist Roald Hoffmann is a published poet and playwright. These Nobel Prize winners are not isolated examples: It turns out that Nobel laureates in the sciences are 17 times likelier than the average scientist to be a painter, 12 times more likely to be a poet, and 4 times more likely to be a musician (Pomeroy 2012).

This should not be surprising, since science and the arts both spring from the same deep well of human creativity and imagination. Renaissance artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Durer were also scientists, and the field journals and drawings of Charles Darwin and James Audubon added much to our scientific understanding of nature.

Mae Jemison--doctor, dancer, and first African-American woman in space--observes that "The arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity" (2002). The Next Generation Science Standards recognize that "Scientific knowledge is a result of human endeavor, imagination, and creativity" (NGSS Appendix H, p. 6).

The overlap of science and art can provide rich learning experiences for students. Both science and art help develop careful habits of observation, and both engage students with crosscutting concepts like Patterns, Scale, and Proportion. …

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