Full STEAM ahead! Scientific illustration as an avenue for including art in STEM education

Chloe Fandel

2017 EarthWeek Plenary Session HAS Speaker

Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Scientists illustrate to record observations in the lab or field, to diagram and clarify their own ideas, and to explain ideas to others. Illustrating helps hone observational skills, which are at the core of science, by requiring the pencil-holder to pay close attention to the subject. Illustrating is also an integral part of understanding and communicating science, but it is often left out of science education.  Encouraging students to think visually about their world could provide a foundation in observation and analysis that enables them to engage more deeply with it. It is also an entryway to science for students who may not think of themselves as “good at science.” Over the course of this year, I have been conducting a NASA Space Grant outreach effort in middle & high school classrooms in Tucson, at K-12 teacher professional development events, and with graduate & undergraduate students at the University of Arizona. Efforts have consisted of scientific illustration workshops intended to build students’ observational skills and engage them in a creative approach to the scientific method. The response from both students and teachers has been positive. Based on these experiences, I have compiled a set of resources & guidelines for both science teachers and researchers on how to use scientific illustration to teach and communicate science.

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