BioMusic

Male_Bonobo_Lola_ya_Bonobo_2008

Male bonobo (Pan paniscus) at Lola ya Bonobo, Democratic Republic of Congo, 2008

The term BioMusic seems to have many different meanings. At least a couple of them represent an authentic connection between art and science, and lend themselves to teaching and research at the university level. The research in this area seems to bring together biologists or doctors, musicians, and computer scientists.

One relates to the evolution of a musical sense as recently exemplified in research on bonobos (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/15/us-science-animals-rythym-idUSBREA1E0ZL20140215) by Dr. Patricia Gray (https://performingarts.uncg.edu/mri/research-areas/biomusic) at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (http://www.uncg.edu). This research involved an undergraduate research assistant. Other studies relate to whales songs and bird songs, and rhythmic abilities in parrots (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17065-dancing-parrots-could-help-explain-evolution-of-rhythm.html#.UwJ7TRayfzI) and sea lions (http://news.ucsc.edu/2013/04/sea-lion-beat.html).

The other meaning relates to the sonification of human biological data including heartbeat, brainwaves, respiration rate, or protein patterns or genetic traits. There’s even an ap for that : http://biobeats.com/our-story/. These topics related to health and biofeedback, as well as biological diversity.

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See You in the Funny Pages!

Could you use graphic non-fiction to teach a STEM subject? Well, science cartoonist and Professor of Biology at Juniata College, Dr. Jay Hosler has done just that.  Check out his blog at: http://www.jayhosler.com/jshblog/

Example of a style of cartoon character by Drawerofshadows

The front page of his blog currently features some great student work from his Animal Behavior course. Almost any STEM story could be told through this art form, which can take a tone that ranges from whimsical to dark. Also, comics would be well-suited for group work as the conceptualization could be cooperative, and the drawing, inking, coloring, and writing could be delegated to different students.

As with other forms of STEAM, this work is certain to form right brain/left brain connections, and will surely result in more time-on-task. Be sure to check out Dr. Hosler’s own science comics and graphic novels on topics as varies as evolution and the history of science : http://www.jayhosler.com