Monday, December 19, 2016

[Yasmin_discussions] What does STEM to STEAM mean: New Ideas or Hot Moist Air ?

Dear Yasminers,

I´m glad to participate in this STEM to STEAM discussion.

First of all, i present myself. I´m physic researcher, recently moved to
Sydney (Australia) (Roger, not Japan, Australia !!), here working in the
field of quantum polaritonics. I´m very happy to say that these travel to
just the other part of the planet is fantastic and rich of new experiences
and adventures.

Concerning STEM to STEAM, i have some ideas, which i would like to sketch:

1) As it is published in Leonardo (49:1, 2 (2016)), and many of you have
pointed out, maybe one key issuein this evolution is to include the S for
Society. So STEM goes to STEAM through STEAMS.

2) This links with one important key, in my opinion. Why Society is not
included in science research as an explicit component. Science is many
times presented as a cultural process, knowledge form, but always quite far
from politics and society troubles. However, everything is politics.
Science includes ideology, moral and ethical aspects. To this respect, i
fully recomend this article from Philip Ball:

If we undertsand this, why not make it more explicit? What this means? I
think this means more contact with society in different variety of
activities and situations, including research, of course. Art, from its own
powerful capabilities, is a great instrument and knowledge expresion to
help to science to make more visible and more explicit its society links
(and technology expressions).

3) However, this is much paralized by the old acedamia/post-academia
confrontation. Science is not related to politics and society issues when
you are protected by the academia (the idea of pure science as knowledge,
totally issolated to anything else). But this is juts an ilussion, because
science-technology-economics links were, are and will be always society
action and activities. But, academicism mantains this ilussion, trying to
disconect science research to this everyday social issues. So,
non-academics activity would help to activate this society-science links.
As for example Do It Yourself (DIY)-Science, or Citizen-Science (CS). It is
very interesting to discover the first age of science comunication,
popularization and vulgarization through XVIII and XIX centuries, were all
these terms arose. Nowadays, DIY and CS are examples of moral and ethical
undertanding of science research and knowledge, where citizens must be part
of the research program. I would like to recomend this fantastics post to
read some key points on this topic, from José Antonio Bustelo:

4) But Art, as a knowledge expression, can enhance all of these excenarios,
from cultural, to visual technology (or sonic, aptics, and so on) to
criticism and, of course, to enhance the society links of research. For
example, some research groups now are including in their CS activities
gammification platforms, with the help of visual artists. My favourite
examples are Quantum Move and The Big Bell Test:

- Quantum Moves:

- The Big Bell Test (Introduction):

But this is just because i´m physycist, and of course you have many more of
this kind of examples, like Foldit and many more.

5) One more step is to reallize that people is putting in practice these
ideas. These are not words, are actions that people are trully developing,
like , just to mention some examples:

- Andrew Pelling, and his interdisciplinarity understanding of research:

- Brian Degger, and his DIY lab:

- Josep Perello, and their Open-Systems CS project:

And, of course, many more.

6) So, finally, is time to change from "eye-sider" to a "hand-sider". We
need to participate (Leonardo 49:3, pag 199 (2016)).

In this sense, in Valencia (Spain), where i´ve been doing my science
research along the last 10 years, we developed an interdisciplinary team
with scientist, humanist and artists whcih one of the final outputs has
been the VLC-Sci-Art project:

(sorry, only in spanish)

This is a collaboration between Visual Arts and Muldimedia Master from
Politechnics University of Valencia (lead by Salome Cuesta), Materials
Science Institute form Valencia University (lead by Fernando Sapiña and Ana
Cross) and Piratas de la Ciencia cultural association (Science Pirates). In
this project we develop the platform to promote art and science student
projects and present them in science and arts festivals, with lab visitis,
talks project management and supervisions. At the moment we are developing
the third edition. Some of the key ingredients here are to include new
technology approaches, and, of course, to visualize better the science and
society issues. We have worked issues as spain civil war, political censorship,
gender issues in science, cancer suffering and pain, ..., or more
technology oriented with aptic spectral translations interfaces, matehamtic
temporal visual representations and color CCD interfacing.

STEM to STEAM, through STEAMS represent to me a way to do science in a non
purely academic scenario, which in fact i understand it as a way to do
better and more intense science.

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