When we remove the white coat of inquiry we are introduced to a world of stories of practicing artists and scientists that have blurred the lines of these seemingly disparate disciplines. These stories inspire us by revealing the long standing history of how science has influenced art movements and individual artists. In this section we will look at the role of materials as a rich and natural intersection for the practice of art and science in harmony. We will hear a story of a how the science of the mind influenced a modern art movement and we will also examine the value of art as a powerful catalyst for inquiry for scientists of all ages. Thanks to the maker movement and the merger of art with STEM, we are seeing a witnessing a new horizon of Material Science and Making.
Hillbrook’s 5th grade, the class of 2019, has embarked on this year’s spring hard problem, a semester long deep project in science that addresses rigorous research practices, as well as a challenging engineering and design prompt.
In 2011, I became the 5th and 6th grade science teacher at the Hillbrook School (Los Gatos, Ca). That same year the school undertook an audit of the science program for areas of strength, as well as areas for improvement. Simultaneously, the Next Generation Science Standards, emphasizing problem solving and engineering, had just been released, and that spring (2012), I attended my first Bay Area Maker Faire. After reviewing the available research on teaching and learning, attending workshops such as FabLearn at Stanford, and the Innovative Learning conference at the Nueva School, I was inspired to bring more engineering and design into the science curriculum. To learn how to do this well, I consulted with experts, such as Ed Carryer of Stanford’s Smart Product Design Lab (learn more about SPDL in Tony Wagner’s book Creating Innovators), to learn more about the use of prompts for semester long engineering projects. By the 2012 school year, I felt ready to prototype the new 5/6th grade science curriculum, now renamed Problem based Science. Problem based science (PbS) encourages students to gain a love of scientific thinking, applied math, and the creative use of technology, while learning through the lens of invention, design thinking, fixing and tinkering. Now in its fourth year of researched-based development, this blog describes how problem based science differs from traditional middle school science classes (i.e., how I used to teach) and lists the four core units of the curriculum. While these units currently make up only the 5th grade science curriculum at Hillbrook, the units are designed to be open ended enough to be applied to any age/grade level with varying degrees of content detail, technology integration, and design challenge difficulty.