Sunday, November 3, 2019
Art is JUST as important as Science. Here's why...
by Rockin' Eco Hero - Steve Trash
I am a big fan of science.
Science is the study of how the natural world works, through observation and experimentation. Seriously – I’m a big fan.
I am, however, not a scientist; I’m an entertainer, a communicator and, on my best days, an educator.
I actually love science and STEM so much, I created a PBS KIDS TV science show – STEVE TRASH SCIENCE – to showcase various aspects of it.
By the way, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. I love all of these disciplines, but to me, there’s something missing. STEM lacks power. It lacks steam.
That’s it! It lacks “A”— STEAM. It lacks the Arts.
Now I, admittedly, am biased toward the arts, but not to the exclusion of science – not at all. Like I said, I love science, but I think STEM alone is missing out on an opportunity. It’s missing a direction – you might even say it’s missing the “energy” (see what I did there?) to really go the places we should be going.
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art – of all kinds – and Math. Art helps us choose the right direction for the science.
STEM projects are all about solving problems. How does the planet work? How fast is the Earth moving around the sun? How teeny-tiny-itty-bitty can we make a computer chip? How intelligent can we make a robot? How mega-tall can we build a building?
These are all really cool questions to ask and problems to solve. They really are!
Here’s the deal, though. The value of the arts – all arts, whether drama, painting, literature, sculpture, theatre, music, high art, low art or folk art – is the stories.
The stories we choose create our meaning.
We say, “We need to create energy that makes no pollution and is renewable.” That’s a story. We say, “We need to treat each other with respect and dignity.” That’s a story. We say, “We need to build devices that will save lives all over the world.” That’s a story.
That’s why art belongs in STEM – transforming it into STEAM – because stories matter.
Consequently, stories inform all sorts of decisions we make. Stories determine who we will or won’t be friends with. Stories determine what church we’ll attend. Stories determine what goals we set for ourselves and believe we can achieve. Stories determine what we think is good or bad. Stories, literally, determine who we think are the good guys or bad guys. Stories are powerful.
Stories matter. Art tries to deliver good, truthful, real, illuminating stories; sometimes it misses, but that’s the goal. Art is about seeing the unseeable and knowing the unknowable. In some ways, it’s kind of like spirituality: Art is trying to make understandable something that’s hidden but is real.
Art is important. Stories are important.
Without good stories, it’s possible we choose unwise directions to take our science, technology, engineering and math. It’s art that gives STEM a North Star – a direction. Art is about thinking through the story. We say, “Hey, that’s important … So, let’s go there.”
They really matter.
Art and science are not mutually exclusive, either, as some might think at first. After all, look at Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan. Together their brains would be larger than the entire planet of Mars (just kidding). They are not just amazing scientists but also artists of communication. They understand not only the importance of stories but the important stories to tell.
At its best, art shows us the best of what we humans can be and how we can keep getting better. The “how” is science. The “what” is art. The “what” should guide the “how.” The “what” should help us choose our North Star.
The how is science: “How do we get this done?” The what is art: “What should we be working on?”
STEM needs Art.
STEM deserves Art.
Thus, it transforms into STEAM, creating our best-possible human story.
by Rockin' Eco Hero - Steve Trash