STEM Exploration through Neurographic Drawings

March 29, 2024

We're thrilled to partner with our friends in Colorado to explore the fusion of art and STEM. Over four weeks, our students’ created neurographic drawings while listening to Haydn’s Symphony No. 104.

Collaborations and partnerships are key to providing the most impactful programs. We kicked off the year with a memorable, musical partnership in Colorado, engaging students in guided sessions to create intricate, abstract patterns that reflected their emotional responses to the music! It was truly magical - watch a summary of the program in action here. The program culminated with a display of student projects at the live symphony where proud families got to watch their children’s creativity shine.

New Castle Symphony in the Valley student with family at showcase
An idea is sparked

It all started from a casual conversation between two friends. Last December, Lisa Lucio, Federal Programs Director of STEM Center USA, stopped to say hello to Ruth Mollman, President of Symphony in the Valley (SITV), during intermission at the symphony’s December 2023 holiday concert. After sharing a bit about each other’s work spheres, the duo visualized an exciting partnership combining Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) with traditional art and music at the symphony.

A few weeks later, Lisa, Ruth, and STEM Center USA Co-Founder Lavanya met online with administrators from Liberty Classical Academy (LCA), a 501(c)(3) private K-12 classical school in New Castle, CO (a rural, mountain town an hour from Aspen), to bring the idea to life.

Collaboration and creativity at its finest

Over four weeks in January/February 2024, twenty 6th - 9th-graders from Colorado Homeschool Enrichment met on the LCA campus and participated in hour-long hybrid classes where STEM Center USA instructors provided live online instruction. They embarked on a transformative journey of creative expression by creating neurographic drawings while immersed in the music via headphones.

Inspired by the captivating melodies of Symphony No. 104 in D major "London" by Franz Joseph Haydn, students engaged in guided drawing sessions while listening to different movements of the symphony. The music guided each stroke of their pens, resulting in intricate patterns and vibrant colors that reflected their emotional responses to the music.

This innovative, immersive project seamlessly merged art and music with STEM, allowing students to apply scientific principles creatively. Students explored the intersection of art and neuroscience, tapping into the brain's neuroplasticity to foster new neural connections while expressing themselves artistically.

The LCA teacher recorded the students as they created their neurographic drawings during each movement of the symphony. These recordings were compiled into videos showcasing their drawings' progression. During SITV's live concerts on March 1st and 2nd, the videos played alongside the live performance of Symphony No. 104. As the orchestra played, the audience experienced a visual journey of the students' neurographic drawings, witnessing the symbiotic relationship between music and art. Symphony viewers watched how the music impacted the students' neurographic drawings, observing unique pen strokes, different color choices, bold designs, and other artistic elements evolving in real time.

Symphony in the Valley students creating neurographic drawings while listening to Haydn's melodies

What did families, students, and our partners think?
“This was a wonderful collaboration, and the results will last—new connections, new avenues for performance, new students, new members to SITV, and new possibilities. It was worth all the effort. Everyone involved did a stellar job with this inaugural collaboration.” - Ruth Mollman, President of Symphony in the Valley

Feedback was encouraging and very positive! Students shared, “It was very interesting and fun” and “I wish to do more!” Post-program surveys found that 79% of participants said listening to the music while they worked increased their creativity, and 95% enjoyed listening to the symphony movement while working on their drawings. Having student and educator buy-in for our programs is integral and we work hard to make sure we keep pushing the boundaries!

It was also especially exciting to be part of a movement to bring a new generation into the symphony. "This collaboration seamlessly united various sectors within our community in a distinctive and vibrant way," remarked Lisa. "Families with younger members, drawn to the concert by the captivating neurographic drawing projects, were introduced to SITV. Meanwhile, seasoned symphony members had the opportunity to share the delight of performing live for a diverse, multigenerational audience. And, local students learned about avenues to pursue their musical aspirations, either through the organization’s Instrument Lending Program or the Student Enrichment Program. It truly was a mutually beneficial experience for everyone involved!"

What is neurographic drawing?

Pioneered by visionary psychologist Pavel Piskarev in the 1980s, neurographic drawings represent a distinctive form of art therapy that delves into the subconscious through process art. By creating intricate patterns on paper, individuals engage their brain's neuroplasticity to encourage relaxation, self-discovery, and emotional expression. This project served as a tangible demonstration of the symbiotic relationship between art and STEM, highlighting the interconnected nature of creativity, neuroscience, and cognitive development.

Symphony in the Valley students' neurographic drawings

What’s next?

This collaboration was just the start! This project holds immense potential for further exploration and expansion within STEM education. By expanding across grades and exploring diverse themes and musical compositions, we aim to continue fostering creativity, critical thinking, and emotional resilience among students.  Renee Miller, Founder of LCA, added, “Lisa!!!! It was amazing. So thankful for you and your vision.”

Through the fusion of art and STEM, we aspire to inspire future generations of innovators and problem solvers, empowering them to explore the limitless possibilities of interdisciplinary learning and creative expression.

STEM Center USA offers TK-12 hands-on STEM classes in person, virtually, and through hybrid formats. Neurographic drawings are one of the many projects in our “Hands-on STEM Modules” program, which includes 30 minute to 1.5-hour modules. Each crafty project leads to memorable, fun learning moments through hands-on STEM. Visit our Federal Partnerships page to join us and bring our programs to your students!

Special thank you to our STEM team members who made this program so magical: Raymundo Torres, Lisa Lucio, Cristina Valdez, Luis Ceja Abrica. And a warm thank you to our LCA teacher on site, Kelly Whittington!

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