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Design inspired by science and art

Release Date: November 14, 2017

Lawrence Tech’s faculty bring art and science expertise to Denby High School


DETROIT – A high school class in design, currently taught by Lawrence Technological University’s (LTU) College of Architecture and Design staff, has been getting a dose of science and art exposure at the end of their school week.

The Friday Speaker Series brings a range of guest speakers – both academics and professionals from the field – right into the high school design course. Each guest comes with a wealth of knowledge and fun, interactive activities to teach students the importance of STEM and design professions. The topics of the recent guests have included “What is Color?,” “The Science behind Photography,” and “Hands-On Color Experiments.”  

The Denby design students participated in the “What is Color?” workshop, hosted by Melinda Weinstein, associate professor in LTU’s College of Arts and Sciences. She took students through a video that explained the physics of color and the inner workings of the human eye that determine how people see color.

The next activity Weinstein led was a series of chromatography experiments showing how many different colors are inside one single color. The experiment was simple: by using a marker on a coffee filter and dipping the filter into a glass of water, the students were able to see the many colors that combine to make one color.  For example, the gray marker is mostly made up of purple.

Weinstein also gave every student a prism, which they used to create a rainbow, and a color theory book. A discussion about violet having the shortest wavelength and red the longest wavelength sparked inspiration for their next project.

The next guest speaker for the class continued the conversation about how humans see color in relationship to the inner workings of a 35 mm camera. Professor Steven Rost, chair of the Art and Design department in LTU’s College of Architecture and Design, came in to speak about photography and the many parameters involved in creating one photograph.

Professor Rost brought in what seemed like ancient technology, but is still very relevant in the design related professions. He showed the students how a 35 mm camera produces a photo onto 35 mm film, explaining how the technology has evolved into today’s digital cameras and smartphones.

The photography workshop aligned with the conclusion of Weinstein’s workshop. She came back with a series of hands-on workshop stations, giving the students the opportunity to learn by doing. The first was a prism and light station which challenged the students to find the rainbow that comprises white light. The chromatography experiment station tested which colors were inside different color marker and paints. The quantitative art analysis station let students analyze art through a computer program created by an LTU student. The final station merged art and science in an art project using yarn that showed the different wavelengths per color.

Overall, the visits inspired the design class to think about art in a new way – through the lens of multiple disciplines. All of the lessons learned through the guests will contribute to the student’s final project. It will involve using the design process and many other topics to produce a final proposal to address each student’s selected community issue. 

The Denby High School Design class is taught by Meaghan Markiewicz, MAr’17, MoUD’17, who is STEM program associate for LTU’s College of Architecture and Design and the university’s Marburger STEM Center, LTU’s clearinghouse for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design education outreach efforts at LTU.

For more information on how LTU’s Marburger STEM Center can help other institutions create similar design-based educational programs, contact Markiewicz at mmarkiewi@ltu.edu.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.


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