Science & Writing: A Connection

Out of all possible defenses, you choose poison.
Toxic, excruciating, painful poison.

Touch me, paralysis.
Consume me, death.

Nudibranch, nudibranch, living in the sea.
Bright flashing colors say, ”Don’t eat me!”

Come closer mister, and I’ll sting you in the eye.
Come even closer, and you just might die!

A woman in a restaurant glances across the table.
She smells of hyacinths – her beauty whispers of summer rain.
She clutches her throat, gasps.
Aflame with fire, her throat swells.
Suffocation, paralysis, death.
On the sea slug sashimi, she should have passed.

Nudibranchs live their lives as thieves.
Stealer of stings, pilferer of poisons,
Brilliant criminals borrowing weaponry.
A first-rate defense for something so seemingly stupid. And slow. And soft.

I have read that nudibranchs only live for about one year.
After one year’s time, the brilliant colors fade.
Because their bodies are so soft, they often leave no trace of their brilliance.
No fossil record – no remnant of their life.

Inspiration for this poem can be found here.  On another note, I don’t think I’m done with this yet. It doesn’t quite seem finished, but perhaps it never will be?

This poem is a type of writing and reflection that is quickly becoming referred to as a Sci-Po.  Yes, you read it correctly.  This sort of writing starts during the reading of scientific text- perhaps a current science news article.  Ultimately, the goal is to transform scientific thought into poetic verse.  The payoff comes in the mental gymnastics involved in this transformation of text and thought.  A strong influence of my husband’s, Dr. Punya Mishra (who is an associate professor of Educational Technology at Michigan State University), recently wrote a post on his blog about a little project that his daughter had developed. Shreya is ten years old and writes Uniquely Mine.  Even our upper-level biology students have enjoyed reading the words she leaves here from time to time.

This little blend of science and mathematics with poetry has stirred up quite a bit of dust recently.  Check our Dr. Mishra’s post on this engaging little writing challenge: “Poetry, Science & Math, OR why I love the web.”  Sean’s post that contains a personal example, links to student work, and a description of the “project” can be found here:  “Is This a Sluggish Strategy?”

Overall, Sci-Pos are quickly becoming a new “genre” of literature if you will. The melding of science and literature, with positive connotations, is blazing through the blog-o-sphere. Try to concoct one of your own- relate it to math or science, and share it with your students.  Sci-Pos are just one more excellent example of science literacy, as well as the interconnectedness of the web!

5 thoughts on “Science & Writing: A Connection

  1. Erin, good to connect with you and I love your Sci-Po’s. Maybe it is time start thinking of making them into a book! I have been having a blast with this personally – and I can’t even begin to describe just how much this has meant to Shreya. I mean this is a 10 year old we are talking about – and for high school kids (or as she says HIGH SCHOOLERS!) to be reading and commenting on her writing is just fantastic.

    Once again, I think your poems are easily the best Sci-Po’s I have read, an almost perfect amalgam of science and creativity. Thanks.

  2. Punya,
    Thank you for your comment to your post – it was great to connect with you through this experience. I am also glad to her that Shreya is getting so much out of this – her work deserves some feedback, so it was wonderful to send some her way.

    Thanks again.

  3. Thank you Michael. I appreciate having you stop in here once in awhile – I certainly don’t write as often as I should – so it means a lot to see that you pop in. I am curious as to what your first comment was deleted for 😉

  4. I was using a silly (in retrospect) juxtaposition between your first stanza, which smokes, and “nudi”-branches, and suggested you started a sub-genre called Sci-Pron.

    I think I fried my frontal lobe in the sunshine yesterday.

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