Art and Science
“How many of you love Science?” we asked the grade 5 students at Tenuhawa Community Secondary School, Lumbini during our science workshop.
Even though we went into the classroom with low expectations, less than half the class raised their hands while the rest confessed to having zero interest in science. One girl honestly admitted to hating science and considered it the most boring subject. Not everyone has a passion for science, but our goal was to try our best to include students in classroom discussions and activities hoping to spark an interest in science by the end of our workshop. This was where art played a huge role. We were surprised to see that the same girl who hated science was the most excited among her classmates when it came to our cell crafting activity. She might not have shown much interest in the theory classes, but as she started meticulously crafting cell organelles and drawing cell outlines, we were sure she learned a great deal.
Art and Science are often considered to be at opposite ends of a learning spectrum that aren’t compatible in a single classroom environment. In traditional education systems, these subjects aren’t combined. Nevertheless, when we tried to incorporate art into our science workshop during our Book Bus trip to Lumbini, the results turned out to be great.
Most of us are attuned to learning the facts, figures, and logic behind scientific concepts. However, we don’t try to create something out of what we learn, which is the prime essence in understanding how everything works in science. By combining art in our science workshops, we were able to introduce the “creating” part of learning in the classrooms. Students weren’t just memorizing facts and figures; they were building something from what they understood. Art played a major role in creating an active learning environment.
In a place like Lumbini, where student’s mother tongue ranged between Awadhi, Tharu and Hindi, art helped us fathom the level of impact we had on our students. Due to the language barrier, most students were hesitant to clarify their confusions, but we were able to use students’ artworks to deduce what they understood. As a result, we could address their confusions. Apart from the pedagogic benefits, art helped us create a vibrant, colorful and interactive classroom environment.
Art also gave students a different dimension to look at a particular scientific concept. Each group had their own unique way of representing what they understood. At Tenuhawa School, I personally asked a student to tell me how a Golgi body looks like after our workshop, and although he couldn’t explain the shape to me, he was able to draw the exact picture of what he made during our cell crafting workshop. For visual learners like him, using art while explaining scientific concepts proved more beneficial.
Nishith Atreya recently finished high school from St. Xavier’s College and is a part of the Book Bus instructor team as a science instructor for 2018.