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).