STEM Brought to Beautiful Life
Posted 12/14/2016 06:23PM

Artist-in-Residence Rebecca Kamen helps students bring concepts to visual beauty

Thanks to a grant from the Bullis Parents Association, the Bullis Upper School hosted renowned sculptor and lecturer Rebecca Kamen for a week to work with all 11th grade biology students to create artistic visualizations of biology concepts.

Ms. Kamen has developed a career investigating and demonstrating how art and creativity can enhance innovation and understanding of science. Her artwork flows across a wide array of scientific fields to capture and re-imagine what scientists see.

The 129 students from 10 biology sections spent two weeks immersing themselves in the world that straddles art, science, technology and engineering. The students began by researching and proposing a visualization of a biology concept they have or will study during their class this year. Ms. Kamen then inspired the students a keynote address to introduce them to the world of possibilities, and then the students spent concentrated time in an on-campus workshop to begin work on their creations.

Along with guidance from Ms. Kamen, tables of supplies, and the Upper School biology and art teachers, the students worked in pairs. They painted, knitted, formed clay, created papier-mache and more. Their materials included styrofoam, pom poms, beads and much more.

"Ms. Kamen encouraged them to stretch their thinking and push themselves outside of their comfort zones," said Faith Darling, STEM Director. "She helped the students to see that art and design truly are infused in all disciplines, and it was a thrill to see the students engaged in work that stimulated critical thinking, deep understanding and creativity."

"You can create anything you can dream," was a common refrain repeated by Ms. Kamen as she made her away around the workshop to talk with all the students about their projects. "Sometimes looking at things from a different and unexpected angle reveals amazing and beautiful images."

The students created paintings, sculptures, 3-D images, knitted and beaded pieces and even dances to portray their chosen concepts. The images they created will be used throughout the year when the classes study those concepts.

"Because the students chose from topics covered throughout the year, they contributed to our curriculum and content and have become experts in their topic," said Science Teacher Tina Zazaris-Davis. "When we get to their concept during the year, the students will introduce the topic and share the interpretation of the topic that they created."

Students were fully immersed in the activity, and expressed how much they enjoyed the experience and a new way of looking at science. Out of the box thinking was encouraged to reflect the creative interests of the students and the medium that most inspired them.

Ms. Kamen praised the coordination and planning of the teachers who came together to create this science minimester:

Faith Darling, STEM
Tina Zazaris-Davis, science
Kathleen Adams, art
Laura Nutter, science
Arthur Lee, art
Dorothy Yen, science
Lauren Rathmann, Engineering/Maker Space
Lisa Clarke, librarian

Thanks to Ms. Kamen and the entire project planning team for bringing this incredible opportunity to Bullis.

View a photo gallery of the event.

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