GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- It sits in a well-lit corner, silent, but active. It's a vine that's growing over and around a specially built chair that's meant to envelope its guest in a cozy sanctuary of nature.
"I have difficulties being relaxed and focused during tests, and nature is something that's supposed to help with that," said senior Callen Hegge, who helped design the chair.
She's a pioneer in a new area of study offered at the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, called ArtScience.
"ArtScience is really the mixing of art and science coming together," said program coordinator Tory Peterson.
"We get a theme yearly. Last year it was virtual worlds. This year it's synthetic biology," he explained.
Perpich has plenty of students interested in all areas of art. Coaxing them into marrying those skills with science took a bit of explaining.
"Really what this design thinking processes is not any different from the creative thinking proceses that is not any different than the engineering processes that cross between the arts and the sciences," said Peterson.
Students research their area of science and brainstorm ideas to bring that concept to life through art. They've created models of virtual classrooms, live performance pieces, they've presented their ideas to professionals and collaborated with artists and scientists on various concepts.
"I can't believe how this has expanded my world view," said senior Eden Rome.
Her goal was to be a writer, and was hoping to enter the Arts High School's literary program. Peterson asked Rome and her mother to consider the ArtScience program. It turned out to be a good fit. Not because it helped Rome narrow down her life choices, but because it expanded them.
"I have no idea what I want to do because it's like the whole wide world of possibilities was opened to me," said Rome.
In addition to educating students, Perpich is a state agency charged with educating teachers and developing curriculum. Peterson hopes ArtScience can then spread to other schools.
"We need to be thinking, we need to be innovative," said Peterson. "We need to be pushing the boundaries about what education is an really focusing on those 21st century skills."
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved.)