Shawnee student recognized for combining art and science to promote STEAM education

Rebecca Crockett
August 23, 2019 - 4:00 am



Shawnee Mission, KS -  A Shawnee Mission South junior sets an example of how adding an "A" to STEM education benefits learning. Katie Swan conducted a science experiment collecting data from door knobs around her high school for biology class. A picture she took, featuring multiple petri dishes with growing bacteria, is gaining attention for it's artistic learning properties.

It's now being featured as part of the BioNexusKC Science to Art platform. Swan says it's getting attention because of the presentation. 

"It's much more inclusive to have photos, and it really involves them and makes them want to know more about what I was researching. Especially when you're working with bacteria where you can't necessarily see it as well," explains Swan. 

She's been working with a mentor on the project, Dr. Carl Gelhaus, a principal scientist and national expert in infectious diseases at MRI Global. She says he approached her wanting to display her piece in the Kemper Museum to help advocate for arts and inclusion so that STEAM education can be promoted more.

STEAM education is Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Swan's science teacher James Wannamaker says art is an important part of STEM education because many students learn in a different way and, in this case, it definitely paints the picture.

Her artwork will be on display at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and at the upcoming BioNexusKC annual dinner.

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