Sunday, August 31, 2014

[Yasmin_discussions] What does STEAM have to do with it ?


We are pleased to start a Leonardo - YASMIN discussion about the
current hot topic of whether we need more scientists and engineers,
or whether we need different kinds of scientists and engineers that
have grounding in the arts, design and humanities.

My own interest in the topic comes from my own hybrid background both
in the sciences and the arts. My original
university degrees are in physics and astrophysics (the field where i
carried out scientific research) but for the
past 30 years I have been executive editor of the Leonardo
Publications at MIT Press and worked with many
colleagues in the arts and humanities. And now I just started a
art-science research lab where we both work
in technoscience research and create art works.

I feel that my career has been 'hybrid'= but for many years I had two
professional CV's - one
for my science work and one for my art field work; and for periods of
my life I was very focused on
one area to the exclusion of others

When we did last year the US National Science Foundation SEAD Study on
Enabling new forms of collaborations
between science, engineering with the arts, design and humanities,( )
one of the things we discovered was that of the 200 people in the
study, 20% were hybrid in the restricted
sense that they had one university degree in science or engineering,
and one university degree in art/design or humanities =
with a broader idea of hybridity much of this YASMIN community of
practice maintains professional activities in both
the sciences and the arts- they are not marginal- but our institutions
marginalise them ( or only recognise one of their
areas of professional practice)

robert root bernstein in his studies of succesful scientists and
engineers- found clear that the most succesful
scientists and engineers had significant activities in the arts- and
they viewed this as part of their methodology
for scientific research not as a past time or hobby.
His study of more than 200 biographies of high-level scientists found
a correlation between a deep practice of an art form
(as an avocation) and beneficial skills and problem-solving thought
processes needed for success in each subject's
specific area of scientific focus. His findings conclude that the more
successful the scientist, the more likely he or she
is to have one of more adult Arts and Crafts avocations... and some
people learn better drawing on hybrid learning

Mass education over the last century has benefited society immensely=
but in many secondary schools and
universities individuals who are deeply hybrid with both interests in
the sciences and the arts , and or hybrid
in the way they learn, find it impossible to pursue their hybrid interests.

Not everyone is a hybrid- many people are deeply passionate about one
area of interest- all their
life or during part of their life ( during my phd in astronomy i
focused deeply and narrowly on astronomy).

So what does STEAM have to do with it ? unfortunately many programs
for training scientists, technologists,
engineers and mathematicians create un-surmountable choices for
hybrids- for me the STEM to STEAM
argument is a call to create pathways through educational and
professional systems so that individuals
with professional activities in both the STEM and in the Arts, Design
or Humanities can thrive= and the hope
is that these pathways will include more diverse types of students

roger malina

our other invited discussants are listed below and will make opening
statements-but we welcome
discussion from all YASMINERS

Discussants will include:

Nettrice Gaskins: Who is launching a STEAM Lab in an urban art school
in Boston and led the National Science Foundation funded project on
Culturally Situated STEM
Her web site is at :

Celia Pearce: who is a game designer, author, researcher, teacher,
curator and artist, specializing in multiplayer gaming and virtual
worlds, independent, art, and alternative game genres, as well as
games and gender her web site is at:

William Joel: Dr. Joel received his PhD in Computer & Information
Sciences from Syracuse University in 1995. Currently he is Professor
of Computer Science at Western Connecticut State University, and
Director for their Graphics Research Group.

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