This summer, I had the pleasure of attending the final presentations by middle school students who attended a summer space science program organized by the Christa McAuliffe Center for Integrated Science Learning at Framingham State University. As I went around the room talking with each group of students, I was amazed by the detailed information the students knew about the subjects of their displays. I was fascinated by the range of subject matter, from detailed plans of a planetarium, through a model of the solar system to a recently discovered world made of water.
I figured that the students were space-fans before they participated, so asked each of them whether they had previous knowledge about their subject or had learned it from the summer program. To my surprise, all but one student responded that they had just learned the material as part of the program.
As I was driving home, I remembered each of the students enthusiastically asking me if I would like to hear the poem they had written about their project. Each poem, short or long, was packed with an amazing amount of rich and colorful imagery! At first it seemed strange to combine science and poetry, but then I read a 2015 NIH report that states, “Poetry hones critical skills in imagery, metaphor, analogy, analysis, observation, attentiveness, and clear communication. All of these are commonly useful in understanding, problem-solving, and decoding scientific and medical mysteries.”
It’s true what they say, “Poetry can make a topic memorable through the use of well-chosen words and vivid images.” Kudos to the staff at the Christa McAuliffe Center for Integrated Science Learning for guiding students in an unforgettable experience. Perhaps, those of us who assist students to get ready for their science fair presentations can incorporate this method to help them better understand their project.