The National Science Foundation (NSF) has shared ways in which various NSF-funded researchers have been inspired to integrate art in their work and as a result, these scientists have transformed STEM into STEAM!
If you can’t choose between pursuing a career in chemistry or the arts, you don’t need to limit yourself to only one field of interest because both are important in the science of art conservation! The NSF mentions a student who studies pigments in historical paintings by using scientific equipment that measures how materials interact with light & identifies the chemical composition of specific pigments.
Other scientists study how paintings deteriorate in order to better understand how to preserve paintings for future museum visitors. It was found that salt-like deposits called “lead soaps” develop in aging paint oil & affect the appearance of paint colors. As you may envision, this type of information has guided curators when it comes to improving restoration techniques.
An organic chemistry teacher contributes to STEAM efforts by leading a program for students to collaborate on an interactive art installation piece for their local campus community. A biochemistry professor strengthens engagement in her community by taking her students to a local art studio where they demonstrate how to make “BioArt”, which are petri dishes painted with colorful strains of bacteria.
When talking about the intersection between art and STEM, we can’t forget to mention origami, the ancient Japanese art of paper folding that makes for a perfect mathematical analogy. One mathematician uses formulas to predict how materials fold & has even discovered a couple origami patterns. Have you ever thought that new origami models could inspire solutions to age old problems in engineering? It’s true! A specific origami pattern was used to carefully fold and deploy a solar panel array on a Japanese spacecraft in the 1990s.
Did you know that we’re still making colorful discoveries? A lab at Oregon State University accidentally discovered YlnMn blue in 2009, the first new blue pigment discovered in over 200 years! This vivid & non-toxic blue even inspired Crayola’s “bluetiful” crayon & has been approved for commercial use. This lab is now working on a new red pigment.
Did some of NSF's STEAM-related research catch your interest? Read more!
Contributed by Daria Teterycz, Northern New Mexico STEAM Coalition Intern
Contributors include the Northern NM STEAM Team, local educators, & advocates