Posts Tagged 'science'

Friday Photos: Science + Art

Using science to take a closer look at nature

Using science to take a closer look at nature

We usually think of scientists and artists as working in completely different spaces: a white coat-clad researcher gazes into a microscope in a sterile lab while a painter wearing a paint-smeared apron brushes color onto a canvas in a cluttered studio.

But this past First Tuesday, families tried their hand at becoming science-artists and investigating nature through both a scientific and artistic lens. In the art studio, children used celery, bell peppers, zucchini, apples, and oranges as their art tools to create one-of-a-kind nature prints. The unique patterns and shapes of the food we eat everyday make surprisingly beautiful images.

Using natural materials to create art

Using natural materials to create art

Meanwhile in the tech lab, aspiring scientists used magnifying glasses to take a closer look at shells, rocks, flowers, and leaves. Looking at nature samples on the light box was illuminating in more ways than one!

Investigating nature samples on a light box

Investigating nature samples on a light box

Spring is the perfect time to head outside with your sketch pad and magnifying glass to explore nature as a science-artist!

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs

Teen Learning Lab

dma_logo[2]Perot-Logo

 

 

 

The DMA, in partnership with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, is a proud recipient of a 2013 IMLS Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums Grant! This grant is for the planning and design of a joint, media-based Learning Lab for middle and high school students to collaborate, create, and connect with peers, experts, and mentors in an environment that is comfortable, social, and cutting edge. One of only twelve projects to receive funding this year, ours will examine the question, “Where do art and science intersect?”

The most exciting part is that the entire project–from its design to its programs–will largely be teen-generated. In addition to getting feedback from local teens, a teen council will be formed that will work directly with Museum staff to shape a more specific vision and plan for the Lab. It will be especially interesting to hear the specific aspects of art and science teens want to explore.

The Learning Lab will be informed by research on teen participation in new media such as the concept of HOMAGO (Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out). So not only will teens be able to participate in programs centered around issues that interest them, they will also be able to experiment, tinker, and learn on their own using state of the art media tools in the areas of audio, film/video, drawing, photography, communication/writing, and design.

Urban Armor 1

All of this represents an exciting shift in the way we think about our audiences and it’s our hope that the Lab truly gives teens a sense of ownership in the DMA and the Perot. Having them generate their own content instead of participating in what we think they want is a concept that’s at once scary and exhilarating; but above all, it’s one that’s long overdue.

The Learning Lab Team is just beginning the planning phase of the project, so we will post updates as our ideas grow and develop. In the meantime, check out the Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia, an amazing Learning Lab example. And tell us what you think–where do art and science connect? What types of programs involving the two would you want to see?

JC
C3 Program Coordinator

The Art of Astronomy

Nicolaus Copernicus was a cleric, a physician, a mathematician—a real renaissance man. Literally. But the true passion that drove him was astronomy. Throughout his life, he took every opportunity to observe the sky and the stars, making meticulous calculations of their positions at a time before the telescope had even been invented. With this detailed data, Copernicus formulated a new theory placing the sun at the center of the universe—an idea that helped to ignite the Scientific Revolution.

Like Copernicus, the Maya were astronomically-minded. Without the benefit of telescopes and other modern advances, they built monumental structures at sites like Chichén Itzá in perfect alignment with the sun during important days of equinox and solstice. Their calendars were also based on the movements of the sun and moon. Their myths and rituals share this cosmological focus, which permeated their entire culture. Even their artworks reflect their celestial mindset.

Eccentric flint depicting a crocodile canoe with passengers, Mexico or Guatemala, southern Maya lowlands, Maya, c. A.D. 600-900, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., in honor of Mrs. Alex Spence.

This flint, shaped like a crocodile canoe carrying its passengers in profile, captures a scene from the Maya creation story. The Maya believed the soul of the First Father was paddled in just such a canoe to the underworld, after which he was reborn as the Maize God, the ancestor of all humans. Contemporary archaeologists have dated this event to August 13, 3114 B.C., based on the Maya calendar. This event was reflected in the heavens each year on August 13, when the Milky Way could be seen floating across the sky from east to west until midnight, when it shifted downward, north to south, plunging into the underworld.

Lidded tetrapod bowl with paddler and peccaries, Mexico or Guatemala, southern Maya lowlands, Maya, c. A.D. 250-550, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund.

Atop this lidded bowl sits the Maya sun god, Kinich Ahau, also in a canoe. As he paddles through the underworld each night, his path takes him through the constellations, one of which is represented by the pig-like mammals incised into the bowl’s legs.

Next Monday, October 24, Arts & Letters Live will welcome author Dava Sobel, whose new book A More Perfect Heaven recounts the revolutionary life and work of Nicolaus Copernicus. Had he been around to observe the skies of ancient America with the Maya, I think they might have found some common ground.

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives


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