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Art and Science on the Bay

In July, graduate students in art education and physical science joined forces to take part in KU's Visual Art Institute.  The institute, a unique opportunity for art and science teachers to build cooperative curriculum, was the brainchild of Dr. Erin Kraal, associate professor of physical science, and Dr. Amy Pfeiler-Wunder, associate professor of art education and crafts.

Art and Science on the Bay consisted of a 3-day expedition to the Chincoteague Bay Field Station near Wallops Island, Va.

While there, students had the opportunity to visit an old oyster village which had been taken over by rising sea levels and to examine sediment and organisms that live in both fresh and salt water environments.   The students created numerous art projects which ultimately became catalysts for discussing the environmental issues that they had been exploring.

Student on beach looking at shells
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Art and Science on the Bay not only placed students in an environment in which they could learn more about their craft, but one in which they could break interdisciplinary barriers.

"The program, having roots in both art and science, was meant to illuminate the ways in which art and science crossed boundaries," said Pfeiler-Wunder.

By doing so the course was intended to open participating students' minds to new ways of thinking.

"We really wanted to break boundaries and have students see the way in which learning is happening all around us, and art and science is a great example of that because art and science pose questions and follow curiosity" said Kraal.

"Learning about art helps scientists become better communicators and learning science helps our art students become better artists" she added.