2nd Annual Bridging the Gap STEM Conference

Enhancing Innovation
in STEM by Exploring
Aesthetics
Derek A. Ham
PhD. Candid...
aes·thet·ics
There is a historic divide
between STEM and the Arts:
Between Engineering and Architecture

•

Engineers and STEM professi...
Why Aesthetics
Rolfe Faste, Stanford professor in mechanical engineering,
points out two distinct reasons for engineers to...
Delight

Firmness

Commodity
Materiality

Utility
Aesthetics

Materiality

Utility
We recognize that there are many ways to be creative but…

What do we mean by “aesthetic creativity?”
There are several myths around aesthetics
• Aesthetic ideas originate in the head of the individual.
• The creative proces...
“It has often been said that a person doesn’t really
understand something until he teaches it to someone
else. Actually a ...
How do we approach aesthetics?

Calculating With SHAPES
Shapes
There are several myths around
“calculation.”
• Calculation methods only deal with numerical variable
systems
• Calculatio...
Calculating with Shapes
Identify Variables > Perform a Function > Note Results > Repeat
1

Rules

Process

Numbers

Functi...
Shape Grammars

x

t(x)
x

t(x)

x
x

t(x)
t(x)

x

t(x)
X
Starting point: base shape
x
Introduce shape copy
x x
Embed shape copy
x x
x

x + t(x)
Design Move: Translation
x x + t(x)
Introduce shape copy
x x
Embed shape copy
x x
x

x + t(x)
Design Move: Rotation
x x + t(x)
Design Move: Rotation
x x + t(x)
Design Move: Rotation
x x + t(x)
Introduce shape copy
x x
Embed shape copy
x x
x

x + t(x)
Design Move: Reflection
x x + t(x)
Design Move: Reflection
x x + t(x)
Design Observation: Seeing
x prt(x)
Emergence: Identifying Embedded Shape
x prt(x)
Emergence: Identifying Embedded Shape
x prt(x)
Emergence: Identifying Embedded Shape
x prt(x)
prt(x) x
Emergence: Identifying Embedded Shape
x prt(x) y
Design Move: Translation
y y + t(y)
x

x + t(x)
Design Move: Translation
y y + t(y)
George Stiny, 2001
combinatorial

embedding
Abstract systems of notation are helpful but are not necessary to calculate..

This broadens our understanding.
Going Beyond
Combinatorial
Calculation and Play Relationship

play

calculation

play

calculation
composition = calculation
We calculate all the time often without formal documentation; in fact there are..

Multiple Forms of Calculation
“One might go so far as to define a human
intelligence as a neural mechanism or
computational system which is genetically
...
“It’s all a form of play.”
Composition Creation Process
Perform
Action

Sensory
Feedback

Cognitive
Decision

Visual Calcu...
Science Technology Engineering and Math can be accompanied by the Aesthetics to…

Innovate STEM Education
How do we teach aesthetics
through calculation?
• Teach students to analyze aesthetics through revers
engineering. Student...
How do develop aesthetic sensibility?
• Aesthetic sensibility comes from our experiences.
• A formal description and metho...
STEM

COMPUTATION

ARTS
Final Takeaways
• Look for aesthetic components in your STEM inquiry
• Use a computational process to work through the aes...
“There is something awfully computational
about play and something very playful
about computation.”
Derek A. Ham
2nd Annual Bridging the Gap STEM Conference

Thank You
Derek A. Ham
PhD. Candidate
Design Computation Group
MIT School of ...
Enhancing Innovation in STEM by Exploring Aesthetics
Enhancing Innovation in STEM by Exploring Aesthetics
Enhancing Innovation in STEM by Exploring Aesthetics
Enhancing Innovation in STEM by Exploring Aesthetics
Enhancing Innovation in STEM by Exploring Aesthetics
Enhancing Innovation in STEM by Exploring Aesthetics
Enhancing Innovation in STEM by Exploring Aesthetics
Enhancing Innovation in STEM by Exploring Aesthetics
Enhancing Innovation in STEM by Exploring Aesthetics
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Enhancing Innovation in STEM by Exploring Aesthetics

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This presentation was presented at the 2nd Annual Bridging the Gap STEM Conference in Raleigh, NC. Discover how K-16 STEM curricula should readily embrace aesthetics as a core component of their pedagogy. By doing so, it opens a new world of creativity and innovation for STEM inquiry. We present a compelling argument for pulling aesthetics out of art education curricula to be placed right at the center of STEM education. This session was hands-on, allowing attendees to participate in learning concepts through an interactive educational game called SHAPE.

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  • Research Interest My research mission is to develop and apply analytical, computational, and systematic methods to improve our understanding of the different aspects of design. Design can be understood as a formal logic system.Teaching InterestMy teaching interest is to inspire and prepare students and researchers for lifelong learning about the impact of design on the physical world.
  • Rolfe Faste, Stanford professor in mechanical engineering, points out two distinct reasons for engineers to consider aesthetics:  It is vital for the creation of successful products  It is a key component to being creative
  • “Engineers often believe they are not able to make aesthetic judgments. Yet as the ‘techie vs. fuzzy’ example shows, this isn’t true. All humans, including engineers, use aesthetic distinctions to understand the world around them. Indeed, they must in order to survive.” Prof. Rolf A. Faste
  • Materiality – Structure and Physical properties. It’s not just “what” it is, but also how it’s put together- tectonics. Utility is its usefulness as a solution to some problem, or effectiveness in achieving some goal.
  • Aesthetics- appeal to the sensesArchitects see design as expression, while Engineers see design as solution. Both are right.
  • The result of visual calculation with shapes yields a result greater than the sum of its parts. Aesthetic Creativity is all about Discovery.
  • Shape Schema – algebraic definitionShape Rule – graphic instruction Shape Grammar – the procedural steps of used rules in result of a given designDesign Language – set of grammars that utilize the same set of rules.
  • Abstract notation is great for analysis and is a way to capture the process of calculation. It in itself however is not calculation.
  • This phenomena is also referred to as the “Magic Circle”
  • Froebel Gifts
  • Making a composition is a computational process; when one is composing they are actually calculating! This changes our attitude about non STEM activities: cooking, athletics, art, music. You may or may not actually develop the abstract language (variables) . I use the term “Composition” to identify the delight component of design.
  • Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences
  • Playing a note
  • Like the arts I suggest beginning by the imitation of nature. Go from the “as is” and abstract to the “not as is”
  • Like the arts I suggest beginning by the imitation of nature. Go from the “as is” and abstract to the “not as is”
  • Enhancing Innovation in STEM by Exploring Aesthetics

    1. 1. 2nd Annual Bridging the Gap STEM Conference Enhancing Innovation in STEM by Exploring Aesthetics Derek A. Ham PhD. Candidate Design Computation Group MIT School of Architecture & Planning Dissertation Committee: George Stiny (advisor), Edith Ackerman, Eric Klopfer
    2. 2. aes·thet·ics
    3. 3. There is a historic divide between STEM and the Arts: Between Engineering and Architecture • Engineers and STEM professionals believe aesthetic decisions are subjective and have no rational footing. • Architects, Artist and those dealing with aesthetics often believe methods that involve calculation are rigid and conforming
    4. 4. Why Aesthetics Rolfe Faste, Stanford professor in mechanical engineering, points out two distinct reasons for engineers to consider aesthetics: • It is vital for the creation of successful products • It is a key component to being creative Vitruvius might suggest aesthetics are the missing part of the STEM puzzle.
    5. 5. Delight Firmness Commodity
    6. 6. Materiality Utility
    7. 7. Aesthetics Materiality Utility
    8. 8. We recognize that there are many ways to be creative but… What do we mean by “aesthetic creativity?”
    9. 9. There are several myths around aesthetics • Aesthetic ideas originate in the head of the individual. • The creative process can not be quantified • Copying is a form of cheating in truly creative endeavors • Aesthetically creative people get it “right” the first time Beauty is Copied not “Created”
    10. 10. “It has often been said that a person doesn’t really understand something until he teaches it to someone else. Actually a person doesn’t really understand something until he can teach it to a computer, i.e., express it as an algorithm…The attempt to formalize things as algorithms leads to a much deeper understanding than if we simply try to understand things in the traditional way.” D. Knuth, “Computer Science and Mathematics,” American Scientist, 61,6 (1972), 709.
    11. 11. How do we approach aesthetics? Calculating With SHAPES
    12. 12. Shapes
    13. 13. There are several myths around “calculation.” • Calculation methods only deal with numerical variable systems • Calculation methods only work in fixed variable systems • Calculation methods are only suitable to find quantitative information and single “right” answers • Calculation methods are slow and cumbersome • Calculation methods are counterintuitive to what comes naturally
    14. 14. Calculating with Shapes Identify Variables > Perform a Function > Note Results > Repeat 1 Rules Process Numbers Functions Computation Example [1,2,3…] [ +,-,x, ] [ 1+2=3] Shapes SHAPES 3 Variables MATH 2 Rules Computation Example
    15. 15. Shape Grammars x t(x) x t(x) x x t(x) t(x) x t(x)
    16. 16. X
    17. 17. Starting point: base shape x
    18. 18. Introduce shape copy
    19. 19. x x
    20. 20. Embed shape copy x x
    21. 21. x x + t(x)
    22. 22. Design Move: Translation x x + t(x)
    23. 23. Introduce shape copy
    24. 24. x x
    25. 25. Embed shape copy x x
    26. 26. x x + t(x)
    27. 27. Design Move: Rotation x x + t(x)
    28. 28. Design Move: Rotation x x + t(x)
    29. 29. Design Move: Rotation x x + t(x)
    30. 30. Introduce shape copy
    31. 31. x x
    32. 32. Embed shape copy x x
    33. 33. x x + t(x)
    34. 34. Design Move: Reflection x x + t(x)
    35. 35. Design Move: Reflection x x + t(x)
    36. 36. Design Observation: Seeing
    37. 37. x prt(x)
    38. 38. Emergence: Identifying Embedded Shape x prt(x)
    39. 39. Emergence: Identifying Embedded Shape x prt(x)
    40. 40. Emergence: Identifying Embedded Shape x prt(x)
    41. 41. prt(x) x
    42. 42. Emergence: Identifying Embedded Shape x prt(x) y
    43. 43. Design Move: Translation y y + t(y)
    44. 44. x x + t(x)
    45. 45. Design Move: Translation y y + t(y)
    46. 46. George Stiny, 2001
    47. 47. combinatorial embedding
    48. 48. Abstract systems of notation are helpful but are not necessary to calculate.. This broadens our understanding.
    49. 49. Going Beyond Combinatorial
    50. 50. Calculation and Play Relationship play calculation play calculation
    51. 51. composition = calculation
    52. 52. We calculate all the time often without formal documentation; in fact there are.. Multiple Forms of Calculation
    53. 53. “One might go so far as to define a human intelligence as a neural mechanism or computational system which is genetically programmed to be activated or “triggered” by certain kinds of internally or externally presented information.” Howard Gardner
    54. 54. “It’s all a form of play.” Composition Creation Process Perform Action Sensory Feedback Cognitive Decision Visual Calculation involves: • Flexible Vision(identifying constant changing variables or units) • Rule Processing (creating and following algorithmic rules) • Emergence (discovering and generating embedded variables) • Recursion (parametric rule application) • Copying
    55. 55. Science Technology Engineering and Math can be accompanied by the Aesthetics to… Innovate STEM Education
    56. 56. How do we teach aesthetics through calculation? • Teach students to analyze aesthetics through revers engineering. Students must learn to create algorithms that are descriptive of things that already exist. • Students must learn to play with the creation of 2D and 3D compositions through the method of following steps and rules described by an algorithmic process. • Students must build a physical and mental library of “aesthetic design moves.”
    57. 57. How do develop aesthetic sensibility? • Aesthetic sensibility comes from our experiences. • A formal description and method of documentation of these experiences helps us learn from them. • The more clear and legible our analysis of our experiences the more we can see connections and develop new ideas. • In developing visual aesthetics, shape grammars provide the most systematic and specific method for defining visual ideas. • Visual ideas can lead to ideas for improving materiality and utility
    58. 58. STEM COMPUTATION ARTS
    59. 59. Final Takeaways • Look for aesthetic components in your STEM inquiry • Use a computational process to work through the aesthetic components of your STEM inquiry • Encourage both analysis and synthesis in STEM education
    60. 60. “There is something awfully computational about play and something very playful about computation.” Derek A. Ham
    61. 61. 2nd Annual Bridging the Gap STEM Conference Thank You Derek A. Ham PhD. Candidate Design Computation Group MIT School of Architecture & Planning www.derekham.com

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