Office of Science Education - go to OSE homepage
NIH SciEd Blog logo, click to go to SciEd home

Science and the Arts

By: Debbie | May 8 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Science and the Arts, Science Lite, Tidbits for Teachers

Weight of the Nation HBO series logo When eating out at a restaurant, pay attention to portion sizes. Some entrees are big enough to feed two people. Share a plate, or plan to take home half your meal. Learn more about America’s obesity problems by watching the HBO documentary series Weight of the Nation. To find more healthy eating tips, check out NIH resources:

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:

By: Debbie | January 31 2012 | Category: Research & Technology, Science and the Arts, Science Lite, Tidbits for Teachers

National STEM Video Challenge logoInspired by the Educate to Innovate Campaign, President Obama’s initiative to promote a renewed focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, the National STEM Video Game ChallengeExternal Web Site Policy is a multi-year competition whose goal is to motivate interest in STEM learning among America’s youth by tapping into students’ natural passion for playing and making video games. Submissions will be accepted through March 12, 2012.

The 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge is launched in partnership with Digital PromiseExternal Web Site Policy, a new initiative created by the President and Congress, supported through the Department of Education. The initiative is designed to unlock the promise of breakthrough technologies to transform teaching and learning.

To learn more about this exciting challenge, visit the National STEM Video Game Challenge Web siteExternal Web Site Policy.

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:
By: Gloria, Margaret | February 11 2011 | Category: Science and the Arts, Tidbits for Teachers

King George VIWe’re excited about  “The King’s Speech,” a new movie that’s drawing attention to the complexities of stuttering and the availability of hope, treatment, and support. It tells the story of how King George VI, father of England’s Queen Elizabeth, seeks speech therapy for his stuttering and courageously addresses and inspires his country at the onset of WWII. It’s been nominated for a dozen Oscars!

Something else exciting is happening that may begin to lessen some of the misunderstandings around stuttering and open up new treatments. A genetic link to stuttering has been discovered by researchers at NIH’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and published online in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings suggest that this common speech problem, in some cases, may actually be an inherited metabolic disorder.

 “This is the first study to pinpoint specific gene mutations as the potential cause of stuttering, a disorder that affects 3 million Americans, and by doing so, might lead to a dramatic expansion in our options for treatment,” says James F. Battey, Jr. , director of NIDCD.

One of the authors of the study, Dennis Drayna, recently told elementary school students in a Q&A session, “Stuttering typically starts in young children who are 3 or 4 years old. Most of these children, about 75 to 80 percent, get over stuttering naturally and never stutter again. In the rest of those children, stuttering can go on for years, sometimes for their whole life. But even for those people, speech therapy can be a big help, and sometimes it can help them stop stuttering forever.”  

Check out Dr. Drayna’s full Q & A session and other resources for people who stutter, their families, and teachers (including a free Web-based video and handbook) at The Stuttering Foundation Web siteExternal Web Site Policy.

Here’s more about an important first step in developing a treatment for stuttering:

--Feature story in the NIDCD Newsletter
--NIH Press release
--Study abstract on Pub Med
By: Gina | May 18 2010 | Category: Science and the Arts, Science Lite, Scientists in the Community

Photograph of Ryam MiyakawaThe USA Science & Engineering Festival External Web Site Policy just announced winners of their jingle contest.  The entries were great and the winning jingles awesome. Listen to the tunesExternal Web Site Policy on the Festival Web site. 

The winning jingle was composed by Ryan Miyakawa a Ph.D. student in applied science and technology at UC Berkeley.  Second place was taken by Daniel Rubalsky, a 15-year old tenth-grader from Reisterstown, MD.

Ryan's song, "Come and Play at the USA Science and Engineering Festival!", is sung by UC Berkeley undergraduate Glory Liu with the help of seven-year-old Noa Perlmutter (daughter of well-known UC Berkeley astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter) and 11 year-old Kassie Demopoulous  (daughter of Glory's thesis advisor).

The second place prize to Daniel was added by Festival organizers because his song received so many votes from the public.  (And a good decision it was!)  The song, "The Science Festival is Coming," is performed by Daniel and his four-member band, State the Name.

Come to the two day USA Science & Engineering Expo on the National Mall October 23 &24th.  Not in the DC area? Check out the USA Science & Engineering Festival External Web Site Policy Web site to find a satellite festival near you.  Satellite festivals will run from October 10th -24th.

By: Cynthia | November 16 2009 | Category: Science and the Arts

three glass sculptures of virusesArtist Luke Jerram creates glass sculptures of deadly viruses.

Search the Web for images of a virus, and you’ll see many colorful versions. So what is the real color of the swine flu virus? Honestly, I don’t know. Does it really matter? Well, maybe ... if the artist’s rendition “colors” our understanding of how a virus really works.

These are the types of questions colorblind UK artist Luke Jerram External Web Site Policy asked when he created a series of transparent glass sculptures modeled after viruses. He wondered how a person could tell the difference between an image colored for scientific versus aesthetic reasons, and how color affects the reception of an image. He also saw the project as way to explore the global impact of diseases these viruses cause.

Right now, the sculptures are on display at Mori Museum, External Web Site Policy Tokyo.
In January 2010, they will be at the Courtauld Institute, External Web Site Policy London.

A slideshow of Jerram’s sculptures External Web Site Policy includes models of the HIV, swine flu, and smallpox viruses. While looking at these beautiful images, you might easily forget what they represent – viruses that can make you ill or kill you.
By: Cynthia | October 15 2009 | Category: Science and the Arts

Photo of young girls dancingIt’s official now. Interpreting science through dance is no longer far-fetched – it has become a creative and entertaining way to teach and learn science.

While working as a part-time substitute teacher several years ago, I thought about teaching mitosis through dance. I was limited by time and resources then, so I had to set the idea aside. Fast forward to DNA Day last year, when I finally had my chance to create a replication dance. NIH partnered with the Liz Lerman Dance ExchangeExternal Web Site Policy to present a day of workshops about science for high school students.

A dancer, an educator, and a scientist (me!) teamed up to lead the mitosis workshop. We reviewed the phases with students and had them assign “movement verbs” to each phase. The dancer led students through some warm-up exercises. Then, we asked students to create their own movements for each phase using the assigned verbs as inspiration. They put all the movements together with some hip music, and -- ta-da! -- they were dancing science. All the students seemed to enjoy the event. One student was quite reserved at first, but by the final performance, he was hamming it up and reveling in his chromosomal role.

Students beyond high school, professors, and researchers are dancing science, too. Some are actually dancing their Ph.D. theses and publishing papers! Even the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has gotten in on the act by sponsoring the 2009 AAAS Science Dance Contest. (See “Dancing Scientists Invade YouTube” in the November 20, 2008, issue of ScienceExternal Web Site Policy.)

Dancing science could work in any school with whatever resources are available. Teaming up with the school band and theater groups to create a performance for the community can work well. Brainstorming with community organizations, such as local dance troops, science clubs, colleges, or universities, will enhance your dancing adventure, too. The performance that caps off the dancing-science activity engages the student dancers and the audience and gives them both a new way to discover and appreciate the marvels of science.
By: Dave | October 9 2009 | Category: Science and the Arts, Tidbits for Teachers

Cover from I just came across a nice articleExternal Web Site Policy by Randy OlsonExternal Web Site Policy, a scientist-turned-filmmaker, on harnessing the power of storytelling in science. He's not talking about spinning tall tales, but framing research as a narrative. The article appears online at The Scientist.ComExternal Web Site Policy. He brings out an important point: "Great stories and great scientific investigations are built around great questions."

I could have used that kind of guidance in graduate school. To often, the only question I'd have during a research seminar was "When will this end?"

Speaking of good questions, we have an NIH curriculum supplement for middle school that addresses just that. "Doing Science" is all about the process of inquiry and getting students to ask testable questions. You can check it out now online and request a copy, too. Many science teachers across the country use these lessons to start off their school year. There's no need to wait until graduate school to learn how to ask good questions that will lead you to a great story.
By: Debbie | September 1 2009 | Category: Science and the Arts, Tidbits for Teachers LogoAn expert panel at has picked the finalists for its 2009 flu prevention public service announcement (PSA). Vote now to choose the winner!

Now through September 16th, you can vote for your favorite video and help decide which PSA is the most effective. The winner gets $2,500 and is featured on national television.
By: Debbie | August 7 2009 | Category: Science and the Arts

Art therapist and patientDid you know that art can be used to treat a multitude of illness? Art therapist, Megan Robb, has found a way to combine her passion for art and her desire to help patients. She provides therapy for patients undergoing medical and psychiatric research protocols at NIH including treatment for alcoholism, schizophrenia, mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder, and medical conditions including chronic illnesses or rare diseases. Patients range from children to the elderly, and are both inpatients and outpatients.

Megan works with doctors, nurses, and other therapists to provide therapeutic art opportunities appropriate to each patient. She says that, "Art therapy is the process, not the final product." Common practices Megan uses include: drawing, sculpture, art using various materials and multiple mediums, sewing and working with fabric, and making masks. You can find lots of information about other health and medical sciences careers at the Office of Science Education’s LifeWorks Web site.
By: Dave | July 28 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Science and the Arts, Science History, Tidbits for Teachers

Harry Potter's World homepageI was surfing the NIH National Library of Medicine's Website looking for visitor information, when I stumbled onto:

Harry Potter's World - Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine

Even if you haven't seen the latest movie, this online exhibit provides an interesting contrast between life at Hogwarts and the science of the 15th and 16th Centuries.

There are resources for teachers, too.

This exhibit will be traveling to librariesExternal Web Site Policy nationwide from September 2009 to January 2011, hopefully to a location near you.

BTW - if you're in the DC area, there are three more chances to see this sort of science fact versus movie fiction discussion live at Science in the Cinema.
By: Cynthia | July 2 2009 | Category: Science and the Arts

A mixed-media artwork showcased at the NIH juried art show by National Cancer Institute’s Jorge Bernal.”]Hi, Cynthia is here. I have a fabulous job as a writer and editor for the Office of Science Education. Besides writing, I get to work on lots of other great science education projects in the office. My work is expanding now into Web site usability and development. Before this job, I worked as a biologist for several different NIH labs.

Art, in its myriad of forms, is a great passion of mine. For this blog, I will be posting on the merging of science and the arts. I especially enjoy exploring the many ways that the arts can enhance science education.

I’m certainly not the only scientist who loves art! Right now, the halls of the NIH Clinical Center are filled with art created by scientists and other NIH employees and some local artists for the 2009 NIH Juried Art Show. More than 500 artworks, including paintings, photographs, pottery, and textiles were submitted for the show. The article “NIH Juried Art Show Returns in May” published in the March-April issue of The NIH Catalyst describes the opening event, the art and the artists.

Princeton UniversityExternal Web Site Policy has recently opened its third “Art of Science” exhibit. At the Web siteExternal Web Site Policy, you can cast your vote for your favorite images. In this show, the artworks were not created for art’s sake; rather, they emerged directly from scientific research.
Contact Us  |   Blog Policies  |   Privacy  |   Report Technical Problems
About Us Awards Articles Accessibility
Office of Science Education Home Contact OSE FOIA Linking Policy Privacy Policy
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives National Institutes of Health Department of Health and Human Services The U.S. Government's Official Web Portal