Friday, September 6, 2013

New Science Labs for non-Science Majors

My goal for undergraduate students is to encourage awareness. Mindfulness about how we see the world is the first step toward understanding nature. So for my non-science majors at Boston University's College of General Studies I designed a series of lab exercises this year that introduce contemplative science learning through engagement with the arts.

For my first lab I took a page out of the book of my friend Maggie Macnab, a master designer and instructor at Santa Fe College of Art and Design. In Maggie's book "Design With Nature" she has readers design a personal logo for themselves. I think this is a great exercise for promoting self-awareness along with an aesthetic sense for visual impulses. 

Because my students will tweet much of their work in lab this year I decided to build on Maggie's personal logo idea. As part of our first lab, students will design a header for themselves in twitter. Once they have completed their project I'll have them tweet me the reason why they designed it this way. 

My objectives for this exercise are many. First, promoting visual awareness is key. It is also part of scientific inquiry. Second, as we explore the abstract signals of nature and try to articulate what they mean, I will be asking my students to re-abstract their findings through the condensed medium of twitter. We will be practicing this from week one. Finally, as we explore science through the interdisciplinary lens of art and the humanities, there is no better medium than the social universe of twitter. I want my students to get in there and play. 

I think this is pretty exciting stuff. And it's highly applicable to my students' majors outside of CGS. For example, my students who pursue a major in finance will find value in our exploration of scientific pattern, process, and prediction. I'm also excited about this because it's the first step I'm taking in BU's Arts Initiative, bringing the arts into every classroom at the University. Finally, as we work to develop a S.T.E.A.M. curriculum, I'm planning to get students thinking critically about science through engagement with the arts. After all scientists and artists have so much in common in terms of how we approach and solve problems. This exercise is the first step. 

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea to build self-awareness through a personal logo and use it in social media! I do hope you will be posting some of this creative work or the links to view them. It would be interesting to find what feelings are brought up as one engages in both the creative process of making the logo and also in using it on Twitter for all to see.

    Have an enjoyable school year!