UGA College of Education exhibit to feature partnership work combining art, education and science

ATHENS, Ga. – What happens when you combine visual arts, science and educational research? One University of Georgia teacher-researcher believes it leads to wonderfully unique learning experiences for both students and teachers.

That’s what Jamie Calkin, a doctoral candidate in science education, has been studying for the past year. As part of his dissertation project, Calkin has been exploring how visual arts could be used to teach science through the partnership between UGA and Clarke County Schools.

Gaines Elementary School teacher Annette Santana and her fifth-grade students welcomed Calkin into their classroom in August 2003. A Georgia Systemic Teacher Education Partnership (GSTEP) grant allowed them to buy high-quality science and art materials. Santana joined in deciding how to best integrate the materials and researcher’s expertise into her science instruction.

The collaboration grew into coplanning and coteaching, often with Calkin working with small groups of students. The two teacher-researchers taught two three-week art-based science units – ocean animals and geology – this past fall.

As a culminating event of their work, the students were asked to select one of the many art pieces they created and write about the science learned from that artwork. This writing, along with a brief biography, accompanies each piece at an “An Exhibit of Art and Science” to be displayed on the second floor of Aderhold Hall on the UGA campus from Jan. 16 to April 30.

University faculty, education students, public school teachers and parents are invited to attend an opening reception with the student artists on Friday, Jan.16, from 10 to 11 a.m. Refreshments will be served.

Calkin, who was worked as a local artist for the past three years, will also exhibit his
research-based art, which reflects his exploration of how to plan and teach science using the
visual arts. He credits his advisor Deborah Tippins, a professor of science education and one of several Fulbright Scholars in the college, with helping him to merge his work as a science education researcher with his art.

In his exhibition, samples illustrate some of the numerous ways Calkin has used drawing and painting to explore and represent his research, including murals, field sketches of students and classrooms, illustrated stories and portraits including self-portraits. He expects to complete his dissertation in the fall of 2004.

The dual exhibit is being created to showcase the students’ and teacher-researcher’s efforts and learning, offer opportunities for dialogue on issues related to teacher-researcher collaboration, arts-based educational research, interdisciplinary instruction and connections between the visual arts and science.

Also through the partnership, students’ work from grades pre-K through fifth grade is hanging in Aderhold. Selected by art teachers Margot Dorn and Krista Dean from Gaines and Chase Street Elementary Schools, the work is hung outside the elevators on the second floor.

For more on the UGA-Clarke School partnership, visit www.clarkek12.ga.us/ccsduga. For more information on Jamie Calkin, visit www.jamiecalkin.com.