As I bring this look at science and poetry to a close, I'm so please to announce that Janet (Wong) and I had an article about this topic published in the April/May issue of Science and Children, the journal of the National Science Teachers Association. It's entitled "Observe, Explain, Connect" and appears on pages 31-35.
It's widely available (for free). For example, you should be able to read a digital version of this issue at the NSTA site here.
Our article begins:
"In his article “Physics And Poetry: Can You Handle The Truth?” astrophysicist Adam Frank (2013) revealed, “Poems and poetry are, for me, a deep a form of knowing, just like science … each, in its way, is a way to understand the world.” Poets and scientists both seek to observe, explain, and understand the world around them. Poetry’s brevity, conceptual focus, and rich vocabulary make it a natural teaching tool for connecting with science, particularly in celebrating National Poetry Month each April and “Poem in Your Pocket” day, April 24, 2014 (see Internet Resources). Akerson (2002) reminds us: the “processes of science and literacy learning are similar and may help the development of each discipline.” She goes on to observe: “using an interdisciplinary strategy can help meet state and national science objectives in a way that supports language arts” (p. 22)."
The more connections we can provide between what children are learning in science and what literacy skills they need to be successful, the deeper their learning of both will be. If poetry can be that vehicle for connecting skills, concepts, and information across the science curriculum, we owe it to children to infuse poetry wherever we can. In sharing science-focused poetry, we can encourage children to think like a poet AND a scientist carefully observing the world around them using all their senses, maintaining an avid curiosity about how things work, and gathering “big words” and key vocabulary in their reading and their writing. As Albert Einstein reminds us, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
It's been so interesting to dig into this interdisciplinary intersection of science and poetry. The 78 poets who contributed to The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science really stepped up to create poems that captured an array of science topics. And as we dug deep into the "Next Generation Science Standards," we examined quite a range of science skills in various sub-disciplines of science. Matching poems to topics and then creating "Take 5" mini-lessons really stretched our science knowledge. THEN, to have our work validated by the National Science Teachers Association-- that was the icing on the cake!
We hope this helps science teachers consider the power of poetry as they plan rich science lessons. And we hope reading and language arts teachers will feel more comfortable talking about science topics as they introduce these poems. It's win-win all around!