What if…? Chemistry-Art Fusion in Action

GRID 2020 Abstracts

What if...? Chemistry-Art Fusion in Action

Dr. Debora Marchak
Science-Teaching Department,
the Weizmann Institute of Science & Ort Arad Highschool

Session I: Educational Environments of the Grid
Monday, November 23, 2020 | 11:00-12:00 (Duet B)

The Multidimensional Learning Grid

Memory and learning are strongly affected by the context and circumstances in which they arise. The learning grid can be seen as a multidimensional space which allows learning by creating contexts and circumstances. Offering one-dimensional grids as spaces for learning, for example: cognitive-rational only, obliges the learner to distort his information processing pathways to match that single channel. In order to expand the learning grid idea to the fullest, we must design multidimensional grids which take into account at least three dimensions: cognitive-rational, multisensory and affective. By the approach presented here, we can do this by weaving a learning grid between Neuroscience, Art and Science.

What would happen if we introduced art observational strategies to the chemistry teaching practice? And, not less important, why do I believe we MUST do it? Chemistry teachers often recognize their students' struggle to understand, recall and apply chemical concepts. Chemistry is a highly abstract subject and learning most concepts requires the creation of symbolic mental constructs of accepted scientific models by the learner. Does the student have the tools to understand symbols and build the required mental imagery? How does the student’s previous knowledge re-arrange to accommodate new abstract concepts if these conflict with old, rooted ones? These processes of adapting, understanding, and recalling content are closely related to the way the content is presented to students and allowed to be processed. Thanks to educational neuroscience research and literature, we know today there are some basic thought-processing factors that support internalization, long-term memory and possible transfer of content: affective arousal, unusualness of input, elaboration of knowledge and parallel processing pathways. When these are present during a learning event there is increased chance for the learning to be internalized and retained. It is also accepted today that for any content to be stored as long-term-memory it is not enough for the content to be clear, but it must bear some emotional tag that allows the learner to make meaning out of it.

In this talk I rethink chemistry teaching and present an arts-integrating approach that exposes the learner to varied modes of learning. This approach was developed keeping in mind the above-mentioned factors expected to promote memory and learning. This chemistry teaching methodology borrows art/design elements, language and techniques to expand the learner’s thinking possibilities and allow him to weave a personally meaningful learning experience. At the practical level, activities developed by this approach fuse artwork observational strategies, such as ODIP (observe, describe, interpret, prove) and “See-Think-Wonder”, with chemistry content. These activities were planned to allow improved content processing time and quality. Thus, learning chemistry content by this approach happens in a multidimensional learning grid, a grid that supports the multidisciplinary space which induces an interaction between the learner and the content that is rational, multisensory and emotional at the same time.