STArt! teaching Science Through Art


The STArt! teaching Science Through Art program focuses on basic concepts addressed in the new California K-12 Science Content Standards. Through narrative discussions, hands-on workshops using art materials, educational animations, and molecular visualization software, STArt! makes science education a learning experience involving all the senses.

Need Statement. Despite its historical importance, art is often considered a stepchild in grade school education. Art is among the first subjects to go when schools cut budgets. Yet, when budgets expand, science takes priority over the arts because it seems more relevant to national goals. An underlying principle of the STArt! program is that - not only are art and science key elements for understanding the world around us, but the two are intimately related. For example, musical scales demonstrate mathematical relationships, a child's kaleidoscope displays geometric principles, and the DNA helical form, whether represented in illustrations, sculptural models, or visualization software, is critical to understanding it's genetic function.

Program Objectives. Using an "Artist in Residence" format, one day a week is made available for workshops developed in collaboration with participating teachers.

  • Provide a creative resource for teachers in meeting the California Science Standards.
  • Create a model for integrating science and art education in way that's exciting, meaningful and accurate.
  • Learn by hands-on participation: students see it, touch it and smell it. Once students internalize science through physical experience, the concepts will resonate throughout their everyday lives.

Methods. The three-part modules consist of:

1. Discussion. Introduce science concepts using storytelling and analogies as well as traditional analytical procedures. When appropriate, a brief animation will accompany the presentation.

2. Hands-on Workshop with Art Materials. Organize group activity based on curriculum topics, such as coloring or creating clay models of molecules. Play-acting and costumes may also be employed. The art discipline will be selected based on best fit with grade level and science topic. (Extra credit may be given for composing a song based on topic after class.)

3. Computer Lab. Explore molecular models of familiar substances using visualization software (freeware or low cost district-wide licenses). Access the Mathmol Website covering molecular modeling for K-12 students. (Created by Marvin Rich,

Sample Workshop Topics:

  • First Grade: Different Forms, Soap and Water.
  • Second Grade: A Body in Motion - Mrs. Garcia Goes to Market.
  • Third Grade: Molecules with Tangible Properties.
  • Fourth Grade: Inside Story on Rock Forming Minerals.
  • Fifth Grade: The Periodic Table and the Essential Elements of Life.
  • Six Grade: Geology and Layer Cakes.
  • Seventh-Eight Grade: Nutritional Polymers - Exploring Common Foodstuffs.
  • High School: Transcription and Translation - Building an Insulin Protein Molecule based on the DNA Template.

Evaluation. The students will be evaluated on workshop project and involvement in group activities. Additionally, pre- and post-workshop assessment tests will evaluate the students increased understanding of the topics and the effectiveness of the STArt! program. Answers may be given using words, drawings, or models. The students' subjective interest in art and science will be assessed with tests as well as from teacher's comments.

Brief Biography. The STArt! program was developed by Susana Maria Halpine, a long-time proponent of teaching science through art. Working under Nobel laureate Eric Kandel at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Columbia University, she received a Master's degree at the medical school while continuing to paint and exhibit in New York City galleries. Halpine received a Mellon Fellowship at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, to transfer biotechnology to Art Conservation. She created the position of Biochemist and developed methods for the micro-analysis of artists' materials. Halpine began developing interactive educational materials in 1996. She's created medical education videos, CD-ROM's and companion Websites for college-level science textbooks published by W. H. Freeman, and a TV spot for UNICEF. (See

In 1994 Halpine was invited by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History to conduct a day-long teachers workshop on the use of art materials for K-6 science instruction. At an Author’s Day presentation in Huntington Beach, CA, 4th and 5th grade students explored chromatography and the types of binders used in ancient Egyptians paint preparations. Halpine has also given hands-on Audubon tours to students from the Los Angeles Unified School District. She currently volunteers at the Venice Arts Mecca in Venice, CA, where she teaches Macromedia Flash animation at an after school program.

Professional Associations:
Women Chemists Committee Chair, American Chemical Society Los Angeles Section, 2001-6.
Women in Animation, Los Angeles Section.

Contact information:

Susana Maria Halpine

Candle Light Productions
Playa del Rey, CA 90293

To see educational animations, visit:


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