Investigating Biological Properties Through Art

Sep 27, 2017 | All School, Fine Arts, Share the Well, Upper School News

When Dr. Brande Jones’ Honors Biology students intersected with art teacher Mr. Hank Kunath, they were able to see, experience, and harness the phenomenon of surface tension.
Through suminagashi, the ancient Japanese art of marbling, students created beautiful works of art, while learning about the properties of water. Exploring the floating ink technique allowed students to see how water reacts, as if it were in slow motion.
Biology students are currently studying water, its properties, and why it is essential for life. While Dr. Jones took a deeper dive with her students to investigate its properties, Mr. Kunath was able to weave in Japanese culture and share the history of suminagashi.
With their new knowledge of fluid mechanics and the forces on themstudents were able to control the pigment in the water to create intentional shapes and scenes. Additionally, they learned that their basic understanding of surface tension has a wide range of applications, including mechanical engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, geophysics, astrophysics, and biology.
Sarah Schab, a ninth grader, reflects on the lesson, “I learned so much about properties of water, because I could actually see how the the density of the paint reacted in the water. It helped that it was a visual, hands-on experience.”
Sharing his thoughts on the process, Mr. Kunath says, “Through the spontaneity of art, the students were able to see and feel the principles of water. They were overwhelmed when they saw the paper literally pick up the paint from the water.”
Dr. Jones shares, “I could see from the excitement on their faces how the lesson came to life for them.”