This article emphasizes the value of creativity and arts-based learning in the sciences (STEAM education), using one example from a recent research study of creative and effective classroom teachers. The future of innovative thinking in STEM disciplines relies on breaking down the distinction between disciplines traditionally seen as “creative” like the arts or music, and STEM disciplines traditionally seen as more rigid or logical-mathematical (Catterall, 2002). The most exceptional thinkers in fields like science or math are also highly creative individuals who are deeply influenced by an interest in, and knowledge of, music, the arts and similar areas (Caper, 1996; Root-Bernstein, 2003; Dail, 2013; Eger, 2013). In light of this, STEAM must become an essential paradigm for creative and artistically infused teaching and learning in the sciences. I recently conducted a study of creative teaching practices among highly effective teachers (winners/finalists of the National Teacher of the Year program). This article looks at a single case drawn from this study, and considers the arts-based science teaching/learning employed by one of these teachers, Michael Geisen, the 2008 National Teacher of the Year award winner, and a middle school science teacher.

Author/Artist Bio

Dr. Danah Henriksen is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Educational Psychology & Educational Technology program, in the Michigan State University College of Education. Her current work and research interests focus on several strands of research related to creativity and technology, such as evaluation schemas for creative work, trans-disciplinary thinking, and creative-cognitive skills for teaching and learning. She is part of the Deep-Play Research Group in the MSU College of Education, which focuses on research related to creativity, trans-disciplinary thinking, and 21st century issues of teaching and learning. Dr. Henriksen teaches a variety of courses in the area of educational psychology and learning technology, with focuses on issues of design/creativity, technology for teaching, and the psychology of learning in technology-rich contexts. More information on her work (and a complete vita) can be found at http://www.danah-henriksen.com.

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