Elizabeth Lorentzen
Elizabeth Lorentzen

Decorah High School art teacher, Elizabeth Lorentzen, and Phillip Einspahr, IBM platform delivery project manager, Rochester, Minn., presented a workshop, "Community Collaboration: the Art and Physics of Solutions," at the 53rd annual National Art Education Association Conference in Ft. Worth, Texas.

The overall theme for the NAEA conference was "Drawing Community Connections."

In their presentation, Einspahr and Lorentzen drew parallels between the disciplines of art and science and the creative problem solving process required in both. Examples such as Friedrich Kekulé's use of visualization in solving the structure of the benzene ring and Albert Einstein's use of visualization in formulating the theory of relativity were cited, and the complementary nature of art and science examined.

As an illustration, the workshop attendees were divided into groups and given a problem to solve by Einspahr and Lorentzen. Emphasizing the creative process, physics principles as well as art elements and principles were used to create prototypes of earthquake-proof towers.

Each group brainstormed a solution with the everyday materials presented to them, built and tested their models for effectiveness on an earthquake simulating machine, and then modified and retested as necessary. Creative process, modification and final production were analyzed by the participants to complete the exercise.