This is the first year the National Museum of Women in the Arts has run an Advanced Teacher Summer Institute, with an emphasis on incorporating Arts learning into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math lessons (acronym STEAM). All twelve of the teachers who participated had previously completed the basic institute and were up for a greater challenge.
I spent the first day of the institute teaching some of the more complex pop-up structures that involve a lot of trial-and-error problem-solving, dimensional design skills, and sequential model-making. These techniques and processes are used by both scientists and artists in achieving results, and the emphasis in this week-long session was on taking risks and exploring these methods of creating and inventing. Participants had much more time to pursue their own ideas and incorporate them into some sort of final book structure. Hopefully, such unstructured time for play and invention can lead to similar discoveries in the classroom, with art and science melding into product designs and technologies for the future.
After the final class on Friday, I walked over to the National Botanical Garden to see a wonder of nature, the rare giant Titan Arum or “corpse flower,” almost ready to bloom. (Not quite open yet. I’ll be watching it over the weekend). It was a fitting ending to an exciting week of science and art.