Cool Class: BIOL 240 – Fundamentals of Human Anatomy

A broad, liberal arts and sciences education allows students to develop important skills, establish a well-rounded knowledge base and learn without boundaries.

“If science trains the students’ mind, art trains their heart and appreciation for other people’s work,” said Victor Gonzalez, director of anatomy in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

In fall 2014, Gonzalez presented a new, extra credit challenge to his students and was overwhelmed with the results. The assignment required students to present an anatomy-related project through their choice of medium – an art piece, video, research paper, game, scrapbook or anything else they could dream up. More than half of the students presented an art piece.

“I wanted to give students the opportunity to have fun while doing something related to the class,” Gonzalez said. “I received more than 200 art pieces and nearly all are anatomically correct. That means students have to know the structures to be able to represent them artistically. Some students have told me that they had fun doing the project and this assignment helped them to reinforce a topic covered during class.”

Impressed by the amount and quality of work he received, Gonzalez decided to host an event titled “ARTnatomy,” showcasing the students’ submissions. From an apron illustrating the digestive system to detailed paintings of brains and hearts, dozens of projects were displayed in the hallway of Haworth Hall in April.

Elaine Krzystowczyk created nail art showcasing different cell types for this assignment.
Elaine Krzystowczyk created nail art showcasing different cell types for this assignment.

Elaine Krzystowczyk, a student in the course and sophomore majoring in exercise science, said that through this extra credit assignment she learned more about the course material and enjoyed herself in the process.

“I’ve always loved making crafts and projects and I enjoy putting a creative twist into my learning. And extra credit points for something I would have fun doing? Sign me up,” Krzystowczyk said. “Combining arts and science definitely helped me; I think it should be done more often. Art is a great way to learn!”

Halle Magid created a painting of an anatomical heart for her project.
Halle Magid created a painting of an anatomical heart for her project.

Krzystowczyk drew on her passion for nail art through the assignment, creating a set of false nails representing a different type of cell on each finger. Using

nail polish and acrylic paint she sketched neurons in the brain, bone cells, red blood cells, inner ear hair cells and skeletal muscle cells. In order to ensure accuracy in the project, she spent time outside of class researching the different cells and learning more about their structure.

Halle Magid, another student in the course and a sophomore in pre-nursing, created a painting of an anatomical heart.

“I liked the idea of getting to use my interest in art to fulfill the requirements when I don’t often get this opportunity in science classes,” Magid said. “I see great value in a broad arts and sciences education. The combination of two contrasting subjects very much complements each other.”

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Hannah Sroor and her painting of skin cells.

Senior majoring in art education, Hannah Sroor, said she decided to take this course because she wanted to explore other disciplines and enjoyed her science classes in high school. She also felt that this course would not only be interesting, but would help to inform her artwork as well.

“I think an arts and science education helps students to be well rounded,” Sroor said. “I think they can both inform one another, and to have a good understanding of both art and science ultimately allows us to better perceive the world that we inhabit.”

Sroor created a painting of skin cells for the assignment, detailing the epidermis and dermis layers.

“I felt that my artistic background helped inform the piece through the color choices and composition, while my scientific background helped me to think about how these different parts work together,” Sroor said. “I think this painting displays how the body is truly a work of art and that beauty can be found in unlikely places.”