Studying The Arts As A STEM Major

My University Encourages Exploration Of The Arts, Even When You're A STEM Major

Going on this trip not only re-awakened old interests of mine but also created a new-found appreciation and love for other topics like stem cell research and E. coli painting.

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At the beginning of the month, I took a trip to New York City with 23 other girls from my dorm. The whole trip was focused on exploring the connections between the arts and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). This trip was centered around integrating the arts into STEM and how the interactions between all the fields can benefit society and inform on each other, thus turning STEM into STEAM.

Some of the days we spent at Rutgers while the other six days we went to different places around New York that related to different elements of STEAM.

Day 1: Judith Modrak and National Geographic

For our first excursion, we visited Judith Modrak, an NYC-based artist who draws inspiration from psychology and neuroscience. She showed us a sneak peek of some sculptures that were going to be in her next show. After a short lunch break, we went to National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey which immersed us in a realistic ocean environment. It was a good example of how technology and art came together to spread the word about the dire situation our oceans are in and encourage interest in ocean conservation.

Day 2: MoMath and Paula Croxson

Let's face it, math is not a very popular topic, but I have to be honest, the Museum of Math, whose nickname is MoMath, was the most entertaining museum I've ever been to. They had interactive activities that got children (and college students) to care about math and the different concepts. There was a bike that you could go on, logical games, and they had a tessellation wall that you could mess around with. After embracing our inner child, we sat down with Paula Croxson, a neuroscientist, science communicator, and senior manager for Education Programs at Columbia University's Zuckerman Institute. She gave us some tips about public speaking and we all had to give two-minute TED talks.

Day 3: Genspace and Public Art Scavenger Hunt

The only time we ventured down to Brooklyn was for Genspace, a community lab where the public has access to lab equipment that allows them to conduct experiments. There, we got to paint with safe e-coli which was much harder than it sounds given that our "paint" was clear and there really wasn't any way for us to tell where we already painted and where we didn't. If you look up some of the stuff that people have done online it's really incredible and a great example of the interaction between art and science. After Genspace, we were let loose in the city on a public art scavenger hunt. All we had to do was roam around and take a selfie with at least three works of public art. We found some of ours in a subway station, Columbus Circle and at the zoo.

Day 4: New York Hall of Science and the Cooper Hewitt

The New York Hall of Science was really cool because we got to see the "Infinite Potentials" exhibit which featured images of the possibilities of stem cell research. The exhibit was also curated by our incredible teacher, Julia Buntaine, and Marnie Benney. If you just walked into the exhibit and looked at the images but didn't read any of the plaques, you would still be able to appreciate the beauty of the images. My favorite one was by Dana Simmons which showed a cerebellar Purkinje neuron, a neuron that assists in controlling motor functions and balance. As for the Cooper Hewitt, we were unable to go due to the government shut down, so we just had a free afternoon in which I caught up on some rest at the hotel.

Day 5: BioBus and the MET

This was, by far, one of the most interesting days in NYC. We traveled uptown to visit the BioBus, a portable and easily accessible classroom that aims to encourage scientific exploration in younger kids. While we didn't actually get to go on the bus, we did visit a stationary classroom where we dissected cows eyes (I'll spare you the details and the photos). After that, we headed back downtown to visit the MET Costume Institute. I've been to the MET more times than I can count, but this time, we got a behind the scenes look into how they preserve fashion garments. I personally love fashion (even if I don't dress like it). I grew up watching project runway and dreaming of being a fashion designer, so visiting the costume institute had a special place in my heart.

Day 6: Guggenheim and the American Museum of Natural History

I've been to the Guggenheim before, but most of the time I don't like a lot of the exhibits that they put on, except for the Hilma af Klint. I'm not really sure what it was about that specific exhibit that I really loved but it was definitely more intriguing than what I've seen in the past. After the Guggenheim, we traversed Central Park to get to the American Museum of Natural History to watch Dark Universe. Once we sat down, I realized that I saw the show before and proceeded to zone out (or fall asleep), but I also realized that it was a good example of how technology and art can interact to educate people about the universe.

Not only was this trip an eye-opening experience that re-awakened old interests of mine and created a new-found appreciation and love for other topics, but it also allowed me to become closer with some of the girls in my dorm and form a smaller community within many of the other communities I'm involved in.

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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

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To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.

Sincerely,

A third-year nursing student who knows

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Sociolinguistics Series: Part 49

Language is a powerful tool.

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Welcome back! We made our way to a meeting with Dr. Shikaki, a Palestinian demographer--basically, that means he takes polls to see what the population's opinion is. It also means he can see how the opinion changes, as the polls started decades ago.

Again, as I talk about his message, keep in mind that this is his unique narrative, and it is different from other narratives out there--both on the Palestinian and Israeli side. He does give a very factual talk, though, due to the nature of his job. He essentially takes all the narratives of everyone else to craft a blanket-statement narrative; however, we should keep in mind that blanket-statements are almost never 100% accurate.

In addition, because he is able to write the questions being asked in his polls, there could be certain narratives left out. Of course, if you've taken any statistics class, you know about nonresponse bias and other biases that come out of censuses and samples. To my knowledge, Dr. Shikaki's polls are only in the West Bank, so Gazan Palestinians aren't even included here.

The first thing he tells us is that a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank are dissatisfied with their government, the Palestinian Authority. The approval rating for the PA is only about 20-25%, and 80% of Palestinians surveyed said that the government is corrupt in some way. A large group of secular Palestinians said that they support the liberal values that are associated with democracy, such as press freedom, gender equality, minority rights, and most importantly, regularly-held elections.

Over the last 10 years, the percentage of Palestinians who support a democratic political system (because they are dissatisfied with the current corruption, as the current system is not giving them a very high standard of living) rose to over 80%.

Some liberal social values are not as widely accepted because many of these liberal values are a very Westernized way of living, and Arab culture differs from Western culture in many ways; neither is better than the other. However, Palestinians do want the freedom of press and less corruption in political parties. Currently, they do not think they have an independent judiciary.

Dr. Shikaki explained that Palestinians can be split, for the most part, into "nationalists," who are mostly secular, and "Islamists," who are mostly religiously observant and non-secular. Nationalists believe in a separation of the church and state, and they are first and foremost Palestinians (compared to Islamists, who are first and foremost Muslims--and Palestinians second). Fatah is the largest political faction within the nationalists.

Within nationalism, there are mainstream nationalists and leftist nationalists. The overwhelming majority of nationalists are mainstream nationalists. They believe that though there is a separation of church and state, there should be cooperation between the state and religion; both can work together. It is not an antagonistic relationship. 55% of the entire Palestinian public would identify with mainstream nationalism (15% would identify with leftist nationalism, and 30% would identify with Islamism).

The smaller section of nationalism is leftist nationalism. They believe that the state can eradicate the importance placed on religion if need be. On the other end is Islamism, which believes that state and religion cannot be separated. Parliament cannot rule in a way that is opposed to Islamic rule and Muslim values. Again, they are first and foremost Muslims, and after that comes their identity of Palestinians and Arabs.

They show more support for a rule by Hamas in the West Bank because Hamas tends to have similar values as them. In the West Bank, about a third of the population supports Hamas over the PA. In Gaza, there is higher support for Hamas, and Hamas was actually democratically elected after the second intifada.

The public in the West Bank sometimes blames nationalists for corruption, and since nationalists are associated with the current government, Hamas could actually win a popular vote right now--which is why the PA has been holding off elections (which, to Palestinians, is another sign of corruption).

Now that we've seen how Palestinians view themselves, we need to see how Palestinians view their Israeli neighbors--and how they view the possibility of peace. It's a lot to unpack, so this concludes this chapter, and I will be talking about it in the next section!

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