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ENHANCING SCIENCE LEARNING THROUGH ART: HIGHLIGHTING NEW COMMONALITIES FOR STEAM

M.A. Vázquez-Manassero1, M.A. Manassero-Mas2, A. Vazquez-Alonso2

1Instituto Universitario la Corte en Europa - Autonomous University of Madrid (IULCE-UAM) (SPAIN)
2University of the Balearic Islands (SPAIN)
STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is an interdisciplinary education movement that integrate those scientific fields to teach students 21st-century skills and to attract more students into STEM, especially women and minorities.

The STEAM movement steps up STEM education by including the ‘A’ for arts (music, design, and liberal, language, and fine arts) and design-related skills. Literature usually justifies STEAM along some common traits between science and arts, namely, curiosity (asking questions), communication (creating answers, designing solutions).

The hypothesis and aim is showing that the common traits between STEM and arts are larger than those mentioned in the previous paragraph. Thus, the research question is: Which common aspects can be drawn from STEM and arts? This paper aims to explore answers to this question putting forward additional commonalities that contribute to widen the supportive basis for STEAM. Further, some exemplary artworks are taken together to illustrate these traits and the power of art to plastically impact on STEM learning.

The method of analysis stems from a conceptualization of the nature of science as a way of knowing that is based on an elaborated and graded taxonomy. The taxonomy develops the features of science along two strands (epistemic-cognitive and social-institutional) and several specific topics that develops each strand. The epistemic and cognitive strand involves the definitions and relationships of science and technology and the epistemic nature of scientific knowledge. The social-institutional strand involves the external and internal sociology of science; in turn, the external sociology involves the topics about the influences of society on the system science / technology, the triadic influences science-technology-society, the influences of science / technology on society and the influences of the school science on society; the latter involves the characteristics of scientists, the social construction of the scientific knowledge and the social construction of technology.

This taxonomy is used as a methodological analysis tool through the qualitative analytical comparison between STEM and arts to unveil the shared traits between them. The results of this comparison anticipate here a list of the main common aspects of science and arts.

The common aspects of science and arts along the epistemic-cognitive strand are:
• Artworks account for STEM knowledge
• Both pose big questions about the world
• Technology is common to science and art
• Experimental focus of activities
• Observation, especially visual perception
• Imagination and creativity
• Change along time

The common aspects of science and arts along the social-institutional strand are:
• Impact of commissioned work
• Science and technology provide themes for artists
• Historical dimension
• Interaction with society
• Influences on society
• Science and art curricula share goals and competences
• Human enterprises
• Role of genial individualities
• Cooperation and team work
• Creation of professional organizations
• Norms and values
• Social construction of both.

These findings point out that STEAM projects are soundly grounded on larger epistemic and social reasons. Thus, joining STEM and arts into STEAM is reinforced beyond than usually advocated.

In-depth justifications, explanations, and consequences of the findings will be further illustrated, detailed and discussed at the conference.