Divergent Thinking: UCLA SciArt Nanolab

Never before have I experienced anything like the SciArt Nanolab at UCLA. Going into this institute, I had no idea what to expect. All through my life, I have been asked “do you like the arts or sciences?” Most people were surprised when I told them that I had a passion for both.

At the SciArt Nanolab, I was surrounded by students and instructors who feel the same way that I do. Rather than conforming to the notion that these two subjects can never be intertwined, we explored various ways to incorporate both of these areas into our work.

As I searched for summer programs, many of the institutes available focus on very narrow subjects or practices. Because this course is so open, it attracted a very eclectic group of students. There were many future-engineers and biologists like myself, as well as some very talented artists! We were exposed to many different fields of work, and this helped me to realize some of my strengths and interests. I now know that engineering is not my forte, but I’ve discovered a new passion for environmental biology and computer science. As a creative person, I was very skeptical about computer science, but I had a great time experimenting with designs and programs.

Many guest speakers gave lectures on their work throughout the two weeks, such as Noa Kaplan, who is an artist who sculpts objects that she views through microscopes. We also completed daily hands-on workshops, like building our own microscopes from webcams and designing our own circuit for clothing. Our instructors led us on visits to five different labs and museums, and we also had plenty of time to get to know each other as well.

Besides the educational aspect, the incredible support from the faculty truly made this experience unforgettable. With their help, us students completed a final project under the guidelines of “imagine the impossible.” My peers all came up with unimaginable ideas, including memory retrieval, compatibility monitors, and ozone-cleaners. My group and I developed a plan for “self-cleaning teeth,” and our final project website and video can be viewed at melfarfel17.wix.com/plaquex.

I highly recommend this program to any student who has interdisciplinary interests, or one who simply wants to explore various subjects! As I head into my senior year and begin applying to colleges, I will continue to explore the new perspectives and interests that I have developed through this program, as well as through my internship with KDR PR.

-By Melanie Farfel, KDR PR summer 2014 intern & senior at Canyon Crest Academy where she is also president of ASB and a member of the Envision Conservatory for the Humanities