The Storytelling of Science and the Science of Storytelling
In many ways, math and science are worlds apart from the creative arts. The first two rely on observation, testing, and rules. The creative arts, on the other hand, allow for greater freedom and subjectivity. Yet now more than ever, math and science can benefit from creativity.
We live in an exciting time where technology is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. We have seen more change and discoveries in a hundred years than our ancestors saw in a thousand. With these great leaps come great technological progress and a much better understanding of the universe. We live in a time where so much information is available, but so few of us really understand all of it.
The inner-workings of your smartphone and the latest research into quantum physics are integral to our lives and future progress. Yet you probably have little understanding of either, and your friends are likely in the same predicament. Now more than ever, we need something universal like storytelling in math and science to help us have a better understanding of those increasingly complex subjects.
Storytelling is, after all, a science in itself. Stories are units made of elements, such as the beginning, middle, and end. You can break these elements down further into a three or five act structure, plot points, character motivations, and more. Even stories can be dissected like a science or math project.
Consider this for your future school projects. Stories can make the ideas being learned more fun. By using stories to make ideas more relatable, they can be more easily understood and easier to remember.
The Big Bang Theory and the development of galaxies tell an exciting story filled with characters such as elements, gases and stars. Your astronomy presentation can reflect this to help your fellow students and teacher better understand those ideas. The human body has many organs and elements working as an ensemble cast to tell the story of your life. Presenting them that way in biology class shows how these scientific principles relate to our everyday lives.
You have encountered many word problems in math. Consider taking those a step further by creating story-like word problems to demonstrate the mathematical principles you are presenting that can make them more enjoyable for the class. Long algebra questions can be daunting, but they also tell a story from beginning to end. They also feature a conflict, an unsolved variable, and conflicts are essential to stories. Imagining them this way can make for exciting chalkboard presentations as you work through a problem.
By bridging the academic world with the world of the creative arts, the two can help elevate one another. Storytelling can take on a greater purpose than just entertainment. Increasingly complex scientific and mathematical principles can be more easily understood and learned by future generations. The story of the human race can take a big step forward as we enter a new chapter of discovery and advancement.
Kukaswadia, Atif. Science and Storytelling: The use of stories in science education. http://blogs.plos.org/scied/2013/06/24/science-and-storytelling-the-use-of-stories-in-science-education/
Liljedahl, Peter and Rina Zazkis. Teaching Mathematics as Storytelling. https://www.sensepublishers.com/media/1019-teaching-mathematics-as-storytelling.pdf