"At MIT… we make new ways of seeing, and we see new ways of making."
—L. Rafael Reif, MIT President
Images are part of our everyday world. They are essential for newspapers and magazines—social media would be nothing without them! Images are also an essential part of science. Scientific images can transcend disciplines, represent complex situations, communicate across languages, and ignite curiosity.
This stunning image, made by Reveal contributor Felice Frankel, could be abstract art appropriate for a museum collection, But it actually shows in microscopic detail the surface of a wristwatch!
MIT scientists use imagery to explore unknown worlds, from the depths of the oceans to the surface of a thin strip of photographic film, and they invite you to come along on their adventures. This week’s package highlights the work of three MIT experts—Allan Adams, Felice Frankel, and Jim Collins—for you to use as inspiration for developing your own tools of discovery, striking visual representations, and problem-solving devices.
Images are an essential part of the currency of the 21st century. But their importance extends far beyond YouTube and Instagram. At MIT, images are an integral part of science and discovery.
This week’s Full STEAM Ahead package is Reveal! Discovering Science Through Compelling Images. We highlight the work of three MIT experts—along with their graduate students and research teams—for you to use as inspiration for developing your own ways to see the world in a new perspective.
A Different Lens
Learn from Felice Frankel, photographer and research scientist at MIT Chemical Engineering, how to experience the wonders of science through photography! Use thoughtful decisions about medium, lighting, composition, and digital manipulation to communicate complex scientific concepts to international audiences!
Create imaging tools that let you explore places you’ve never dared to examine before with Dr. Allan Adams, lead investigator for the Future Ocean Lab at MIT!
Follow the work of Professor Jim Collins, a pioneer in the burgeoning field of synthetic biology! Combine imaging knowledge and biology to invent a product, repurpose a technology, or design a new medical tool.
Make sure you scroll to the bottom for additional activities.
Photographing science is an act of discovery. Through judicious decisions about medium, lighting, composition, and digital manipulation, Felice Frankel constructs visually stunning images that also convey important information.
The objective of A Different Lens is to create images with new perspectives that engage and inform viewers. You can capture a compelling scientific image that, when paired with text, conveys a complex concept.
“The making of pictures gets you, as the scientist, to look and see things that you would not ordinarily pay attention to.” — Felice Frankel
If you aren’t comfortable with equations or charts and stumble over the wordy explanations in science books and journals, it can be hard to see the beauty in science. That may be one reason some people don’t like science.
But the truth is; we are all scientists trying to make sense of the world around us. Images and graphics are powerful tools that can allow anyone to understand a process or a phenomenon, or at least to be drawn into it enough to marvel and be curious.
The process of creating striking images doesn’t just benefit the viewer—it can also be an act of discovery for the scientists who make them, nudging them to see things they might not otherwise pay attention to.
The following activities and resources are designed to help you create your own compelling image to help communicate a science concept.
Meet the Expert: Felice Frankel
A Glimpse into MIT: Koch Institute Public Galleries
|A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words (All Ages)|
|Explore what makes a good scientific image. Capture, caption, and share your own scientific image!|
|Illustrating Science (All Ages)|
|Use your drawing skills to explain everyday science!|
|Scanning Science (All Ages with Adult Supervision)|
|Use your scanner to zoom in and explore everyday objects.|
|Ethical Dilemma of Image Enhancement (6-12)|
|Discover how scientists create images of deep space phenomenon and reflect the ethics of image enhancement.|
|Interested in learning more about using a camera to explore your world?|
|The MIT Museum and Koch institute will be hosting a 2-week celebration of scientific imaging starting June 6th, 2020. Keep an eye on the MIT Museum website to learn more about this series of webinars, technique tutorials, and photo challenges.|
This annotated reading list was curated in collaboration with the youth librarian team at the Lucius Beebe Library in Wakefield, MA. All titles were selected based on their relevance to the theme.
This video playlist provides additional information about Felice Frankel and her work on making science and engineering pictures. You can use these videos as background information for additional exploration as you explore the activities above.
This Pinterest board provides additional information about Felice Frankel and her work with making beautiful science and engineering pictures. Check out some of the ideas before creating your own images!
Be sure to get adult permission before sharing…
- Your explorations with us on social media using #MITFullSTEAM and #ADifferentLens
- Your questions with us on the A Different Lens Forums!