Detroit gallery’s exhibit aims to spark STEM interest

In this July 11 photo, a visitor looks at an exhibit called “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” which uses the actual blood, sweat, and tears of artist Tarah Rhoda, which is part of the Hustle exhibit at the Science Gallery in Detroit. (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)

DETROIT — An exhibit at a downtown Detroit gallery aims to fuse art and science to spark young people’s interest in high-tech, creative careers.

The HUSTLE exhibit, which features interactive displays that combine technology and artwork, attracted visitors recently to Science Gallery Lab Detroit that included students from Wayne State University’s K-12 summer engineering camps.

Yaw Wiafe-Akenten, the lead instructor for a WSU summer group of 13- to 17-year-olds, brought his students to the exhibit at 1001 Woodward, hoping to show them that engineering and art aren’t mutually exclusive.

“We’re bringing them to see the application of science and art,” he told The Detroit News . “There’s a social stigma that divides artists and engineers. But as an engineer, I see no problem with art. We need artists to design products. I want to delete that stigma in the students’ minds. Art and coding: you can do both.”

One of the gallery’s pieces, “SurveillAnts,” tracks the movement and interactions of ants.

Displaying the insects’ trails on a screen, it highlights the ways modern consumers can be tracked by governments or corporations. The ants also represent one of the main concepts behind HUSTLE: they are constantly working to achieve their tasks.

HUSTLE was created with 15- to 25-year-old visitors in mind, according to Jeffrey Grabill, associate provost of teaching, learning, and technology at Michigan State University, a partner in the science gallery.

Grabill believes today’s museums often neglect this demographic, but it’s important for them to have an interest in the sciences and the humanities, he said.

“We want to light a fire,” he said. “We want (young people) to engage the world. We want them to solve the world’s hardest problems. Those problems require a mix of arts and sciences. We’re deliberately fusing them.”


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