Poetry and science are not usually things that we put together in the same sentence, let alone the same lesson at school. But there are many reasons why we should! Science, even when it adheres to rigorous methods, is a creative process, and scientists are very imaginative people! In addition, science is often a place where new language evolves, as new names are needed to describe discoveries. Often the words used by scientists have multiple meanings and so can be rich in metaphoric potential. Science can also invoke emotions and a diversity of human experience. The plan (and challenge) is therefore to compose original poems using ONLY text from a primary, peer-reviewed scientific article. It can be done!
In this lesson, students will have opportunities to:
- Learn about how poets use science in their writing.
- Study the terminology of a scientific text and learn new vocabulary.
- Think about metaphor and how to make relations between science and other human experiences.
- Write original poetry.
Materials and Resources
To teach this lesson, you will need:
- poems from Canadian poets who use science in their writing (examples given below).
- a copy of A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes (McClelland & Stewart 2015) by Canadian scientist and poet, Madhur Anand, to focus on the 13 “found poems”.
- an online example of Dr. Anand's “found poem”, “Alienation: The Transferring of Title or of Interest” from her scientific article (Springer Link, 2013).
- scientific articles from peer-reviewed scientific journals. Several of these are now freely-available through “open-access” or can be purchased for a fee.
- access to online dictionaries.