Art of Science Learning

A major focus of The Art of Science Learning project is about attracting more students into the sciences and helping these STEM students become more creative and imaginative as they participate in the workforce.

But we should remember this is not just about the “STEM students” and assisting our physicists and engineers become more creative. It’s also about bringing “science literacy” to a broader public – so that we are all better informed about our world and can make smarter personal decisions about issues that intersect with, say, how our bodies work, whether biofuels are good for the planet, global warming and so on.

So how about arts and humanities students learning about the sciences?

I’m reminded of the Bard College “Citizen Science” project (reported by the New York Times, Jan 22): a mandatory crash course for Freshmen implemented for the first time this winter break.

Bard President Leon Botstein argued that a lot of energy has gone into educating science majors in the arts and humanities but little has been done in the other direction.

This was an intense, immersive course. Rather than lectures (an ineffective teaching tool according to the NRC’s Jay Labov), there were plenty of hands-on lab work “focused through the prism of infectious disease,” that brought in a score of scientists from around the country. Though there was some resistance, the New York Times article reports several conversions and final projects that included one group enthusiastically deciding to choreograph how the flu vaccine works (with students performing as antigen, B cell, T cell and antibodies).

Comments

  1. #1 mark carmody
    March 17, 2011

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  2. #2 Liz
    March 18, 2011

    I can understand humanitites students’ reluctance to engage with science issues – I was like that my first year of college, when I registered for a botany class to fulfill my lab science requirement (I was an English major). I finally got more interested in science when I decided to minor in psychology and took some classes on statistics and neurodevelopment. My preconception of science was that it was rigid and dull, and to realize how cool it was I had to get to it through something I considered interesting – in my case, why people behave the way they do. So I think the idea of using an interesting issue like infectious diseases to engage humanitites students is a good idea.

    Oh, and it’s great to see you here on ScienceBlogs!

  3. #3 maurers
    March 19, 2011

    Great stuff ! I like it.

  4. #4 Altın çilek form seti
    March 19, 2011

    My preconception of science was that it was rigid and dull, and to realize how cool it was I had to get to it through something I considered interesting – in my case, why people behave the way they do. So I think the idea of using an interesting issue like infectious diseases to engage humanitites students is a good idea.

  5. #5 Elizabeth
    March 19, 2011

    I disagree with the generalization that lectures are a poor teaching tool. Lectures can be inspiring and informative, and they put lab work, which can be mundane and repetitive at times, into a broader more meaningful context.

  6. #6 NZ Free Classifieds
    June 15, 2011

    This story is giving the information to the art and science about the humanitites students of the blog. So I think the idea of using an infectious diseases to engage humanitites students is a good idea.

  7. #7 orjin krem
    December 8, 2011

    I disagree with the generalization that lectures are a poor teaching tool. Lectures can be inspiring and informative, and they put lab work, which can be mundane and repetitive at times, into a broader more meaningful context.

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