Stargazing Down a Microscope
Scopic was an inter-disciplinary educational initiative for school students in years 6-8, engaging them in both the sciences and the arts. With educational resources hosted on the Scopic website, students were first directed to play the Scopic memory game to familiarize themselves with microscopic images produced in biological research and telescopic images from space. In their art classes they were given the opportunity to produce works inspired by the images on the website. These were entered into a competition, where winners displayed their work in the Albert Hall, London in May 2008. “Sparkly”, “intelligent” and “well thought out” were just a few of the words used by UK school-children to describe artwork created by their peers.
Subsequently, the exhibition moved to Durham University’s Calman Learning Centre. Both the artworks and their soundtracks, created by schools in association with composer Duncan Chapman, were available online at the Scopic gallery.
Scopic was an arts project designed to inspire young people with the beauty and wonder of science. We hoped that students, who wouldn’t otherwise choose science, might re-evaluate their perception of biology, chemistry or physics as boring.
The MRC Clinical Sciences Centre funded the development of the website and computer game featuring Sir Patrick Moore. The stunning array of imagery, from supernovas to stem cells, was kindly provided by scientists all over the world. Astronomical and biological counterparts were paired together on the basis of their visual similarity.
The first Scopic competition and exhibition were organised in association with the Royal Albert Hall and Durham University. Twelve schools in Durham and London were invited to create artwork inspired by both inner and outer space. Students chose a starting image and responded by creating a Scopic partner.
Winning entries were selected by an illustrious panel of judges including Dr Brian May and Lord Robert Winston. Lord Winston awarded Scopic prizes to exhibitors at the Royal Albert Hall and congratulated students adding “Art and science aren’t separate. They’re both part of something that is very special to mankind: human conciousness.”
Nine year old Emily C from Newker Primary School scooped the best microscopic prize for her creation: the Tonsilrainbowlitis Virus, a response to the spirograph nebula. Lakshmi Piette and Catherine Duffell of St Godrics Primary School were awarded best telescopic work for their imaginative Red Hole, a response to human skin cells.
Baroness Susan Greenfield, a Scopic competition judge, said “Scopic successfully bridges the gap between science and art. The creative response from UK school-children reflects the effectiveness of cross-platform approaches to education. Scopic is an inspiration. Let’s hope it makes more young pupils interested in science as a subject.”