Science + Creativity

Creativity 101, Uncategorized, Understanding Creativity

I will never forget my biology class freshman year of high school. Each day we started the class by looking up at the blackboard, which had a list of reading and exercise assignments straight out of the textbook on it. We had the class period to do the assignments, which usually involved defining vocabulary words, making a flow chart of the steps of the scientific method for the umpteenth time, and copying diagrams on diagrams. The labs were predetermined for us:

Then, when I got to Mizzou and was required to take a lab science course, I balked at the idea of another biology class. So I signed up for an honors lab science course that sounded general enough, and I got a complete 180 from my high school science class: We got the chance to create our own lab experiments, formulate our own questions, and experience the creative side of science that I had never known existed.

In creativity class today, I was reminded of this when our guest speaker described how science and creativity are intertwined. We started class with a word association exercise that pitted science majors against journalism majors, and we realized how science majors view science as a more fun and creative field, while other people might view it differently as formulaic, boring, and confusing. While I don’t think of science as a boring field, I certainly think of it as a straightforward, formulaic one (there has to be one right answer, you follow steps of experimentation, you make exact measurements of how everything is in nature). And today’s class made me change my perspective and realize how science is really about asking many of the same questions and using the same processes that I use to choreograph a dance routine or compose music.

People often ask the question, “Is it an art, or a science?” and I would think the answer is often both, since both involve creative processes of some sort. Both require you to engage in problem solving, observation, collaboration, inspiration, and so much more. And from now on I’ll be looking at scientists with a different eye, even considering myself a scientist on occasion (I do use experimental models to make predictions a lot…like how long it will take me to walk to class every morning, or whether my bank account will make it to my next paycheck if I get Starbucks twice in the same day).

One thought on “Science + Creativity

  1. I’m really pleased with your recognition of the similarities between art and science. In the Renaissance, artists and scientists shared friendship and ideas, when they weren’t the same person (like Leonardo da Vinci). I suspect that the split between art and science was heightened (if not initiated) in the Romantic era. Think, for instance, of Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, with its symbolism that science is unleashing technological monsters it can’t control. There are currently attempts being made to build bridges between art and science. Do you know about the movement called STEAM, which takes STEM and adds an A for ARTS?

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