My University Encourages Exploration Of The Arts, Even When You're 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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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 A.M. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest,

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old doom room is now filled with two freshman trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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