Novel representations and diverse perspectives can reveal new insights into complex systems, and can support rich understandings of the world. In this activity, students will identify and analyze the choices artists and scientists make when creating representations of living or non-living natural objects. This process will help students recognize the potential and place for their own articulation of how the world works. After drawing from nature, students will reflect on the process of representing information, then compare their drawings with that of a 16th-century artist. Students will consider what is included and what is excluded, and hypothesize about larger contexts and systems.
Problem solving is often guided by disciplinary frames of reference, which can restrict our ability to see other possibilities. This exercise uses object-based learning to underscore the idea that there is more than one way of analyzing and knowing the world, and that through multiple ways of knowing, we develop more complex understandings and new solutions. Through the process of critique, an essential part of visual-arts pedagogy, students practice analyzing and reflecting both individually and in groups.