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Srinand Paruthiyil

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Audience context
Overall, Id expect a mildly intelligent person to be reading this article. Id
expect them to have some college education, as I dont feel that I included too
much complex science past the one sentence on orbital theory. They dont need to
have too much context besides knowing what that America is pushing STEM a lot. I
would think that someone interested in a career in science would read this, as while
I do talk about the arts a lot, this piece is more on how arts benefit science, rather
than the other way around. However, I feel that someone reading this article would
still enjoy the arts enough to be open to the idea that the arts are important. This
being said, I feel this article is really preaching to the chorus since if they like both
art and science, they can see how they fit well together. I would imagine someone
reading this on public transit on the way home or maybe in between experiments in
the lab.

Srinand Paruthiyil
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The Arts are Crucial to Science


The modern day push to go into STEM fields is vastly disproportionate.
Children are being told to go into STEM fields significantly more than humanities
and creative arts. Programs are in place to introduce computer language to students
in preschool and kindergarten before they have a proper grasp on their speaking
language. As science rockets forward into this computational age, scientists dives
further into a crude stereotype: the scientist is logical and numerical, with no taste
for the arts and creativity. However, not only is this trend robbing the world of great
contributors to the world of the arts, this trend robs the world of the creative
scientists who change the world.
The creativity which is needed in scientists is most recognized in traditional
artists. Consider George Gershwin, who took jazz and transformed it with classical
music to create some of the great standards which are played to this day. This
transformation is what we consider is considered creativity in the sciences as well.
Take Jennifer Doudna, who investigated an obscure bacterial defense mechanism
which used a unique sequence of chemicals to recognize and cleave foreign
attacking DNA. She was able to transform this with biological engineering to create
a brand new gene editing system which could revolutionize the field of gene
therapy. She was able to transform something by combining it with something else,
this is the creativity which scientists need.
This creativity must be embraced in order to continue innovation. If we are to
teach this creativity to children, we must teach them the traditional sources of
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creativity alongside STEM, the arts. Arts are at the center of so many scientific
endeavors. Take architecture, which combines visual art with mathematics. Some
arts were derived from science, film photography originated from experiments with
light and nitrate film. These practices are forms of creativity at the crossroads of art
and science
History has examples of scientists directly combining art and science to
create wonders. Charles Ngre combined photography, chemistry, physics, and
mathematics to guide the photos he took. He used science to form his art, even
saying Where science ends, art begins. According to his second wife, Albert
Einstein himself played the violin as a means to concentrate, playing it in between
his time in his study. He even said The theory of relativity occurred to me by
intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition.
Despite the importance of creativity in science, the United States is putting a
vast focus on STEM without paying attention to the fostering of artistic creativity.
The department of education has invested $4.3 billion into the Race to the Top
competition where states will develop strategies to prioritize STEM subjects over
others. On the other hand, the last arts program of comparable magnitude funded
by the federal government was the Federal Art Project from the New Deal.
Not only is there no sizable funding program for the arts, education cuts
directly attack the arts programs. The Los Angeles Times reports that in Los
Angeles, an arts capital of the world, only 35 of 700 schools had high performing
arts programs, and only because of community donations. In Philadelphia, according
to The Notebook, a Philadelphia public school site, only 25 of 218 schools have

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school based instrumental music teachers. The New York Times says that 1 in 7 New
York schools have no arts teachers.
When these art cuts happen, it negatively affects STEM, even though these
education cuts are trying to direct attention to STEM. According to Education Week,
arts courses boost SAT math scores. DoSomething.org says that students who
study art are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement. They
also say that in countries like Japan, Hungary, and the Netherlands, where arts are
mandatory, students rank the highest in math and science test scores.
So what is there to do? If STEM will be damaged no matter what by either not
funneling enough money into it or cutting funding for the arts, it seems like theres
no other options. The solution is to integrate the arts into science and vice versa.
RISD has taken steps to accomplish this goal. RISD Alumna Meghan Reilly Michaud
has taken to provide high school students at Andover high school a lesson in
Geometry Through the Lens of Art. Even Sesame Street is taking initiative with its
Elmo the Musical which combines singing and dancing with geometry and
arithmetic.
The success of these programs will be seen when America realizes that the
economic investment that must be made is in innovation, rather than arts or
science alone. Rather than looking at the arts and sciences as separate boxes
without any relationship to one another, we must put the two on one singular
spectrum. Innovation is the middle of the spectrum of thought which ranges from
science to the arts. If something is separated into boxes, it may gain clarity, but it
loses wholesomeness. For example, when physics and chemistry are separated from
one another, one may be able to learn it more effectively, seeing equations

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separated to attack certain problems. However, some of the greatest discoveries in
science were interdisciplinary, being at the crossroads of physics and chemistry.
Take the orbital theory, created by Max Born. He combined physics and
mathematics to describe equations so applicable to chemistry that they dictated the
shape of the periodic table. Interdisciplinary actions have been at the forefront of
the science itself for so long, they should be present between the arts and sciences.
That is what will produce innovation in each field.
And its not just about what will produce the greatest economic stimulus,
innovation is the heart of science. Even when economic stimulus seems far off, as it
may when incorporating art into science, innovation from moonshots must be taken.
Think of the literal moonshot, when JFK said that the US would put us on the moon.
At the time, no one could dream that the moon landing would affect their everyday
lives. The giant leap for mankind really didnt affect the average American initially.
But today, everyone has all the information in the world at their fingertips because
of a moonshot investment that didnt matter to anyone outside of NASA. In science,
great discoveries come from hunches which are tenuous at best. But, with a larger
investment in creativity and the arts, the potential for these great discoveries can
be maximized.