“Equipped with her five senses, child explores the universe around her and we call that adventure Science.” ~Edwin Powell Hubble,1954
In both science and art the “good stuff’ is not necessarily the end product but the learning and fun of the journey. When we provide children with a diverse collection of materials to explore in their own way, we invite them to be creative and flexible thinkers as they use materials in a variety of new approaches. The purpose of science/art inventions is not to just create a picture or a sculpture. Instead, it is to encourage children to use their natural curiosity of the world around them to create experiments with basic science concepts and materials – which often do end up looking like works of art! Science becomes art and art becomes science.
Children are born scientists. Their play with diverse materials often turns into an experiment as they innately apply the steps of the scientific method: observation, prediction, experimentation and evaluation. In the process children are using and applying the higher order skills of creative and critical thinking and problem solving. What happens when a child wants to attach one piece of cardboard to another? Through experimentation with different methods the child not only puts together a work of art but also experiences the science concepts of balance, adherence, and structure. When children encounter a new art material or combination of materials they:
• observe it’s appearance, composition and texture
• predict what they could do with it and which materials they will need to use
• experiment with techniques of manipulation and construction
• evaluate their experience, creation and the fun of making it!
Setting Stage for a Science/Art Discovery Center:
-provide ample space for experimentation (this could get messy!)
-supply a diverse collection of art material
-furnish science materials for exploration
-invite children to use the art and science materials in many different ways
-give children ample time for experimentation, even encouraging them to return to the center over a period of days or weeks to their “works in progress”
Ask Open-Ended Questions:
-What can you do with a piece of paper?
-How many different ways can you use this material ?
-What would happen if these materials were wet? Will some float or sink?
-How many different materials can you use to create change?
-What materials will blow away?
Changing the Variable – a Scientific Approach to Easel Painting:
In any experiment the way to get different results is to change the variable. This can be applied to all art experiences but especially easel painting. In easel painting there are three variables:
1. the surface to paint on: unusual papers, different shapes and textures, three dimensional objects, newspaper, wallpaper, foil, freezer paper, tissue, even boxes!
2. the tool to paint with: rollers, brushes, stamps, sponges, even a feather duster!
3. the paint: colors, shades, monochromatics, water colors, thickened paint with liquid detergent or glue, paint with added surprises such as sawdust, soap flakes, sand … invite children to paint with just plain water!