Interactive exhibits merging art and science created by Texas A&M visualization students encouraged kids to explore nature, physics, color theory and more at a booth sponsored by the Institute for Applied Creativity at the April 26-27 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC.
Developed by students under the direction of Jinsil Hwaryoung Seo, assistant professor of visualization, the exhibits engaged children at the festival’s first-ever STEAM Pavilion, which featured stations that added an artistic element, the “A”, to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, topics.
Among student’s various STEAM activities was an app for teaching children, ages eight and above, about wiring and electricity, developed by Marcos Alfonso, Joshua Strunk and Michael Saenz. Combining the ease of a touchscreen with the feedback from tangible, interactive components, the app helped players build and understand simple circuits.
At another station, children could view the results of mixing color combinations in a touchscreen app developed by Emily Harris and Joelene Tomecek.
“We were able to observe how children use our projects and talk to them and their parents,” said Seo, who plans to use the feedback to inform future projects.
During the festival, she said, program developers from K-12 schools, museums and afterschool programs showed interest in integrating the students’ projects into their respective curriculums.
Other student projects at the Department of Visualization exhibit included a technique for adding a sense of touch to scientific phenomena developed by graduate students Stephen Aldriedge and Antoinette Bumatay, and a cocooned creature with which children could communicate in a variety of ways, created by Seo and graduate visualization students Tiffany Sanchez and Catherine Hervey.
The STEM to STEAM movement is a phenomenon drawing worldwide attention, said Carol LaFayette, head of the Institute for Applied Creativity.
As head of the Network for Sciences, Engineering, Arts & Design, LaFayette and her network partners are developing strategies and hosting workshops that champion the integration of art and design in technical education with an active research and outreach agenda.
Jinsil Hwaryoung Seo