Ten students from the bio-art class at Evanston Township High School (ETHS) in Evanston, Illinois, visited Northwestern University in February as part of a collaboration inspired by Science in Society’s annual scientific images contest.
The beautiful images produced by winning scientists are artistically stunning, but also convey important information. One of the goals of the collaboration is to give the students an opportunity to explore the connection between art and science by producing artwork of their own.
At Northwestern, the students visited the biology teaching labs in the Technological Institute, where they learned about microscopy, and used light microscopes to look at everyday materials they’d collected the week before. The students were then able to compare how different levels of magnification reveal interesting details about everyday objects, such as a bug or piece of hair.
In advance of the field trip, Eric Miller, a staff member at Northwestern University’s Atomic and Nanoscale Characterization Experimental Center (NUANCE), took images of the same materials using a scanning electron microscope. They will use the images he produced as the basis for an art project.
The students also visited the LaBonne Lab, where graduate student Lauren Geary spoke about her research on stem cells. Geary uses frogs to study the unique properties of stem cells, which can easily transform into any type of cell.
The bio-art class, co-taught by biology and chemistry teacher Dema Sabbara and fine arts teacher Gina Buck, aims to integrate biology and arts education. The field trip was the first step in an effort to use the scientific images contest as a platform for this integration.