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March 14th 2019

Head Girl Team Blog: STEAM week - How science and art are complementary and not contradictory

Whilst we appreciate these subjects in our curriculum over the course of the academic year, STEAM week is our real celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths at Blackheath High School.

This week has not only been about enjoying these areas within their own right, but also admiring the innovation that can emerge from the interaction between these fields and inspiring students to pursue these interests further. The emphasis has particularly been placed upon forging a link between the science subjects and the perhaps slightly neglected creative arts. Such STEAM week activities have included ice cream making for Year 7 & 8, Harry Potter potion experimentation for Year 6 and specimen drawing exercises open to all - there has definitely been a lot to celebrate this week!

For centuries, the dichotomies of science vs art, creativity vs logic have been portrayed, suggesting that the two are in fact mutually exclusive. These dangerous dichotomies have purveyed most aspects of knowledge and have even been translated into our anatomy. As an aspiring neuroscientist, I have often read about the emergence of this separation as a result of brain lateralisation; the idea that the left hemisphere produces logical and analytical outputs whilst the right is known for its intuition and creativity. This fact, which has so often been referenced as a central dogma to personality, is a complete myth. In actuality these contrasting extremes, as they have been portrayed, are much more related than previously thought.

At A level, I take a mixture of arts and science subjects those being Chemistry, Biology and French. While this combination is somewhat unconventional as the latter is often replaced with Maths, I have found the combination of Arts and Science a complementary one. Most recently I explored the cross over between these subjects through my Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), examining how the bilingual experience can sculpt the human brain. On the surface, this subject appeared to be purely scientific, exploring the intricacies of the cortex. Delving deeper revealed the underlying creativity through linguistics and even more so in the link between them in the form of neurolinguistics. For me, this was far more interesting than either of the two in isolation.

Not only do the two complement each other but in fact enhance each other. Scientific Nobel laureates are 17 times more likely to be a painter, 12 times more likely to be a poet and four times more likely to be a musician when compared to the average scientist.

Both science and art are a means of attempting to interpret and express the world in which we live, producing reciprocal interpretations. As this week has proved, the culmination of collaborative efforts from all fields and talents does not impose limits, but rather empowers us.

Written by Freya, Year 13


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