What is the role of beauty (and aesthetics) in science in science education? This is something that I have been interested in for a long time, going back to highschool. Over the years I have built a small body of scholarship around this topic. Sadly, this work does not often get the attention I think it deserves, but once in a while it leads to some interesting experiences and conversations.
The first was being invited to be a guest on the Beauty at Work Podcast podcast (hosted by Brandon Vaidyanathan, Associate Professor of Sociology at The Catholic University of America) in an episode titled Why Aesthetics is Essential for Science Education. This conversation, in turn, led Brandon to invite me to a conference he was organizing: Beauty at Work, An international symposium.
At this conference I was on a session titled Aesthetic Properties and Scientific Information, along with Myron Penner (a philosopher of science from Trinity Western University); Amanda Nichols (professor of chemistry from Oklahoma Christian University); Milena Ivanova (from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge); and Rebecca Kamen (artist in residence at the University of Pennsylvania).
My talk was titled “On designing aesthetic educational experiences in science” and a video of the presentation can be found below. The framework that is at the heart of this presentation was first published in this paper:
Mehta, R., Keenan, S., Henriksen, D. & Mishra, P. (2019). Developing a Rhetoric of Aesthetics: The (Often) Forgotten Link Between Art and STEM. in M. S. Khine, & S. Areepattamannil (Eds.). Steam Education: Theory & Practice. Springer.
Some photographs from the symposium