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Wyoming Teachers Combine Art and Science at UW Workshop

August 22, 2014
Man conducting experiment
Laramie teacher Reynold Candelaria prepares to drop a parachute from the top floor of the UW Visual Arts Building during the recent Art and Science Collaborative workshop. (UW Photo)

Teachers from throughout the state recently explored how art and science can be combined to provide new areas of exploration for students in Wyoming schools.

The weeklong Art and Science Collaborative attracted 23 science teachers and 16 art teachers to the University of Wyoming for a workshop that was inspired by the UW Art Museum exhibition “Starstruck: The Fine Art of Astrophotography.” The event combined the annual Transforming Learning Workshop hosted by the Art Museum and the Exploring Science Workshop for Teachers hosted by the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium and the UW Science Posse.

“It gave teachers an opportunity to consider how art and science intersect as investigative processes as they explored a variety of materials and methods that are appropriate for both art and science classrooms,” says Wendy Bredehoft, UW Art Museum education curator.

“Participants joined group discussions, took several tours and learned ways to encourage inquiry within their students,” adds Jan Truchot, UW Science Posse coordinator.

Combined workshop sessions investigated the connections between art and science through viewing the “Starstruck” exhibition; explored the historical symbiotic relationships between science and art, presented by UW Art Mobile Curator Erica Ramsey; experience a night of star gazing and photography; and worked on a parachute inquiry activity.

Additionally, UW Honors Program Lecturer Diane Panozzo illustrated how writing can reinforce the art and science connection by engaging students in writing exercises that promote thoughtful reflection. Dave Winsch, an art teacher from Pine Bluffs, introduced blogging as a way to promote such writing.

Workshop participants explored art and science connections through hands-on studio projects, too. Working with Visual Art Ceramics Professor Margaret Haydon and studio assistant Mike Hurley, they considered and responded to the work of scientists engaged in replicating DNA from ancient species, and the growth of potential new life forms that combine DNA from disparate entities.

In the photography studio, teachers produced images first in the digital lab, then in the darkroom using chromate printing processes developed in the 1800s, directed by photography instructor Bailey Russel and studio assistant Holly Wood. NASA education specialist Tony Leavitt and Science Posse graduate students taught the students how to access NASA’s library of lesson plans and activities.

One art teacher commented on the parachute inquiry project, noting that, ”We worked together to figure out all the aspects of our inquiry and to make certain that it worked with what a science teacher would love.”

Casper teachers Toni Sweet, left, and Debi Coca work on a project during the recent Art and Science Collaborative workshop at the University of Wyoming. They were among teachers from throughout the state who explored how art and science can be combined to provide new areas of exploration for students in Wyoming schools. A science teacher added, “I thought it was interesting how the culmination of projects covered so many aspects about the behavior of parachutes. The teacher-led conversation at the end helped to synthesize all the information. This was amazing.”

An elementary teacher was impressed with the lessons that combined science with art.

“I am so looking forward to trying to use them in my classes,” the teacher wrote. “ Many of my students love art and hate science. So any way that I can connect the two, I have more success in my class.”

Through its Museum as Classroom approach, the UW Art Museum places art at the center of learning for all ages.

The Science Posse works to increase public appreciation and awareness of science, improve students' understanding of science, inspire students to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and develop and enhance partnerships between UW and the Wyoming energy industry.

The Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium promotes science, math, engineering and technology education from elementary through university levels and offers programs to recruit women, underrepresented minorities and the disabled for careers in these areas.

Science and art educators attending this year’s workshop at UW, listed by hometown, were:

Casper -- Daryl Amador, Joni Bunce, Debi Coca, Connie Edleman, Michelle Long, Amy McCormick, Ellen Parke, Barbara Ray, Karen Rudd-Litell, Toni Sweet and Jennifer Wistisen.

Cheyenne -- Cynthia Bruder, Craig Held, Heidi Heald, Mary Kinstler, Mark Nowotny and Julie Schwartz.

Douglas -- Pat Gamble and Mariah Walker.

Dubois -- Janet Lee.

Green River -- Jeff Bernal.

Kaycee -- Milo Warren.

Kemmerer -- Jacob Parks.

Kuwait City, Kuwait -- Brian Wright.

Laramie -- Kristin Cortney, Reynold Candelaria,  Kadria Drake, Shawn Green, Amy Irish, Shelley Miller, Tara Pappas, Patricia Smith and Mark Williams.

Medicine Bow -- Heather Booth.

Pine Bluffs -- David Winsch.

Rock Springs -- Pamela Sipe.

Wheatland -- Josie Voight.

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