Saturday, March 21, 2009

What is Visual Science?

I'm using Visual Science as the flipside of a coin with Visual Art on the other side. Visual Science is the use of images, objects, places and visual experiences to observe, think about, communicate and create new understandings in science, mathematics and technology.

There are many complex ideas that are virtually impossible to think, create or understand without strong visual skills to go along with knowledge of science and mathematics. The discovery of the double-helical structure of DNA (left) is one example. When Watson and Crick came upon this image in 1954 they had solved one of the greatest mysteries of our time. The picture was the solution.

Science teachers know that most of their students have a difficult time looking at a science concept picture in a textbook and understanding what the image is depicting. Pictures in science textbooks do not address multiple learning styles; they are designed primarily for visual/spatial learners.

More learning styles can be addressed through the use of visual design to teach science. This can be accomplished through the use of two dimensional and three dimensional images, objects, places and animations of science concepts. Animations are readily available on the Internet to provide visual design representations of science concepts. Mathematica is a computer program that enables the creation of images to help people understand incredibly dense mathematical concepts (right) that could not be comprehended as numbers alone.

Architecture is a visual science. Designing buildings requires strong visual and design skills coupled with the mathematical and engineering knowledge to actually build them. Video game design requires strong visualization skills combined with the intricacies of creating the game engine that makes the game work. Product design requires strong visual creativity coupled with knowledge of material science.

Visual science is the non-fiction side of the visual learning coin that helps people solve problems that can not be solved by science, words or numbers alone. Visual science is essential to answering the greatest mysteries yet to be unlocked in the universe and to create our future.

Click on the heading above to see videos about science and design from a panel at the 5D Conference in 2008.

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