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Illuminating Science through Art

Illuminating Science through Art

Manny working on t-shirt
Manny Beatty uses fabric paint to create a personalized t-shirt with a science theme.
Benico with drawings
Benicio Beatty holds his watercolor rendering of flower forms following a mini lecture on the biology of plant structure and function.
Photos by Brenda Lange

For one week at the end of June, 12 local students (of middle school age) immersed themselves in a summer science and art camp at CHC where they learned to observe and artistically reproduce diverse preserved and living organisms.

The goal of the camp was to broaden the students’ science knowledge while incorporating creative means of reinforcing that knowledge.

The camp was run by Joe Kulkosky, Ph.D., professor of biology and chair of the department, and CHC art major, Bridgette Marrero, who assisted and provided instruction to the students on the use of the various art media, which included water color, acrylic, canvas renderings and 3-D art forms.

The students learned about the structure and function of biological organisms in the context of their intrinsic beauty. They then reflected on those qualities in their artistic renderings.

Two brothers are examples of the high caliber of students who participated. Emmanuel (Manny) and Benicio Beatty will start 9th grade in September. Manny will attend the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) to study filmmaking, and Benicio is headed for St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia as an Ignatian Scholar (the school’s highest scholarship, which is awarded to only 10 students).

Their mother, Maria, a 5th and 6th grade teacher at Our Mother of Consolation in Chestnut Hill, learned about the camp near the end of the school year. She discussed it with her sons, quickly won them over, and registered them, in part, because of the Maguire Foundation sponsorship, offering the boys a chance at a week’s camp on scholarship.

“We’ve been involved with the Maguire Foundation before, and knew it would be a quality program,” says Maria Beatty. “It seemed like the perfect combination of their interests and would give them one more chance to share a classroom before they go off to separate high schools."

If Manny or Benicio had any reservations, they quickly melted away, leaving them enthusiastic participants.

“This camp ended up being a highlight of my summer that made an impression on all the kids that week,” says Benicio. “My favorite part was the culmination of both scientific and artistic skills that we gathered through our experiments and observations. I now will be prepared to be confident in a laboratory for the rest of my life.”

Manny says that he enjoyed the class in part because it combined two of his favorite subjects—art and science.

“I learned how to observe cells and microorganisms with a microscope and dug deeper into the things I’ve learned,” says Manny.

The camp was funded by the Maguire Foundation—providing the students with free registration and lunch each day—as part of a planning grant to explore programming that combines the arts and sciences with the goal of inspiring and developing projects with CHC that combine art with environmental conservation, science, psychology, business, computers, human services and/or education.

—Brenda Lange

Posted In: Academic News