Science and art collide at Christiansburg High School
CHRISTIANSBURG — When it comes to education, some people believe you put science in one hand and art in the other.
Science artist Rebecca Kamen believes you should put your hands together, and she spent Friday showing students at Christiansburg High School just how they could.
Kamen, a professor of art at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, spent the day in the school’s media center instructing groups mixed of science and art students on how to use art to create DNA models.
Kamen said she had been researching ways educators could use art to enhance science through a Chancellor’s Faculty Professorship through the Virginia Community College System. The Christiansburg students were the first group to take part in the actual lesson.
Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library branch supervisor Pamela Hale was largely responsible for Kamen’s visit to the school and area. Hale said she saw Kamen speak at the Virginia Library Conference last October and immediately wanted to bring her to the community.
Hale said that through the combined efforts of Virginia Tech and the Montgomery County Friends of the Library, Kamen had been able to spend two days working with Virginia Tech students and a day with Christiansburg High School students. Kamen will also be involved in a variety of Friday evening and Saturday morning activities at the Christiansburg library.
During a brief lecture to the Christiansburg students on DNA strands, Kamen explained that science and art both deal with “invisible worlds” and that she believed the process of visualization is where the two worlds could meet.
She then challenged the students to create models of a double helix or of nuclear DNA in the process of unwinding using a variety of art supplies.
Over the next 30 minutes, the students, broken into groups of four or five, tapped into both their creativity and their scientific knowledge to create their structures. The combining of the two worlds was something many students said they enjoyed.
“It’s better than just reading out of the book,” Bryce Quinn said.
Across the room from Quinn, Rachel Milnor echoed his thoughts and said it was great to get to use her imagination with such a project.
That was likely the exact response Kamen was hoping for, as she said prior to the project she hoped to create an engaging learning environment.
It wasn’t just all about being creative, either, as students also commented on the scientific aspects of the project they were learning.
“DNA is like a puzzle,” Emily Orndorff said, referencing her group’s project — a DNA hat.
“And you can make it into a hat. A very uncomfortable hat,” classmate and DNA hat model Devin Martin added.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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