blending art and science
Art For Communication
Cool Science brings together young artists, mentors, community members, and researchers to explore extreme weather through science and art.
The main goal of Cool Science is to enhance knowledge-building and therefore advance the field of informal science learning by developing and examining a multi-disciplinary, multigenerational, and multi-regional program that centers on youth learning about the science of extreme weather through the creation of art, and adult learning of science through exposure to the artwork on buses.
The Cool Science team believes that art can be a powerful educational tool to help develop a more climate-literate public. We also think that understanding the science behind hurricanes, droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events can help people and communities be better prepared.
This project will test many of the project team’s ideas through carefully constructed research about the impacts of the Cool Science program. The research results will be used to guide future science communication efforts.
Art Helps Teach People About The Science Behind Extreme Weather
In the Cool Science project, art is:
1) A tool for thinking about and developing ideas
2) For documenting and recording what is being learned
3) For communicating concepts to broader audiences
1) Art as a tool for thinking and developing ideas
While working on posters to teach the public about extreme weather, consider what the science means and explore this website and its links.
Explore images, shapes, marks, colors, materials, and designs that may end up conveying what you are trying to put into poster form.
Investigation, which can include planning, exploration, research, and interpretation through the art-making process, allow you to try on ideas freely, to find connections between ideas by joining them together, layering them, or placing them next to, above, or below one another, and to refine your thinking by re-drawing, re-placing, and re-organizing the images from one draft to the next.
Thinking visually is a time-tested method for realizing what we are thinking; artists discover things they hadn’t known they were thinking and make ideas clearer iteratively by manipulating them over time.
2) Art for documenting and recording what is being learned
As you learn about the science of extreme weather – through on-line research, books, interaction with adult mentors, and other resources – you can document the science concepts and make initial sketches in an “accordion book.”
Using images requires you to envision your ideas, bringing your thoughts, feelings, understanding of relationships between concepts, and goals together. Images can be used both logically and evocatively.
Because art can be personal, messy, focused, layered, ambiguous, flowing, and responsively organized, review of the most interesting images and words created as the development process unfolds makes the ideas readily available to pluck out for further development and thinking.
3) Art as a tool for communicating to broader audiences
The art contest is framed to require youth to create artworks that answer challenge questions about elements of extreme weather. The learning process begins with a question, which leads to the use of visual thinking in inquiry-based learning.
As the process of inquiry – finding, recording, synthesizing, reframing, revising, and refining ideas into physical form – comes to a close, the poster emerges as an accessible way to tell others what has been learned and understood.
The final art product provides a vehicle for synthesizing what the young artists have learned as well as communicating that information.
Art is meant to grab attention – it engages people. Once engaged, artworks are meant to hold attention so viewers absorb and think about what they are seeing. Engaging, holding attention, and compelling thought and further conversation with others are some of the ways that visual art conveys ideas in important, humorous, powerful, subtle, and often multiple meanings, through forms that can be deeply felt.
Both the young artists and adult viewers have an opportunity to discuss the ideas portrayed in the artwork and further ideas or questions about the science and/or impacts of extreme weather at the Art Exhibition Celebrations.
Accordion Books are simple research notebooks that artists can make and use while learning the science of extreme weather. By making accordion books (see Accordion Book Project for examples and more information), the mentors learn to guide young artists to record and process information in images and words, and to design posters to teach others about extreme weather.
Why accordion books? We suggest this inexpensive form of “research notebook” to collect and develop thinking around extreme weather, because accordion books act as a “spine” to hold all the parts of the process together through its powerful qualities:
Accordion books are simple to construct from inexpensive materials (roll paper) that are readily accessible
Simple covers made from heavier, recycled papers hold the books together well, using a string- or rubber-band tie for closures
Accordion books are flexible and can be added to easily – pasting in new pages where needed to explore an idea further, or pasting onto pages vertically to extend a single page up and down to make more recording room that then folds back neatly into its original format. Ultimately, the “book” can become a “map” and then return to a “book” that allows expanded, three-dimensional thinking, opening wide and closing together, returning to a compact book that can be presented and understood both linearly and in more fluid, expansive ways
Accordion books are elegant in structure, which allows ideas to be represented on a single page or span across multiple pages
Accordion books have two sides (the front and back of the accordion) that can be used for different kinds of information (e.g., generation of ideas vs. documentation of others’ ideas)
Making pockets in accordion books is easy, and idea generation and development often result in loose papers that need to be kept together (in pockets!)
Accordion books are easy to revisit by unfolding pages of information, and/or to see “codes” (such as colored dots or stamps) used to categorize similar types of information (for example, one might code for “questions I have”; “new ideas”; “facts about my topic”)