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Nothing Fishy About Combining Art and Science at Port Jefferson High School

Port Jefferson High School students applied lessons learned about fish fins and scales to an ancient Japanese printmaking technique.

The arts and sciences were united at Port Jefferson High School last week when students used lessons about the external anatomy of fish to produce Japanese Gyotaku prints, according to a statement from the school district.

“Gyotaku provides an excellent way for students to enhance their scientific process skills of observing, hypothesizing, experimenting, comparing, contrasting, measuring and cataloging,” said art teacher Carrie Morgan.

Knowledge of fin position and the importance of scales for protection and as an evaluative tool for scientists gained in Jonathan Maletta’s marine science class was used in the lesson. Species studied included flounder, striped bass and porgy.

“We felt this would be a more valuable lesson for the students if they were able to participate in a hands-on activity,” said Maletta.

The project also incorporated background information on Japanese culture.

Students used a real fish body that was washed and cleaned by their teachers to paint and then press with special paper creating the imprint. The method is similar to the ancient Japanese art of using sumi ink and rice paper to create a life-sized impression.

“Scales produce ring patterns, much like rings associated with growth for trees, that help scientists determine their age and also possible spawning events in freshwater environments,” said Maletta. “Students examined scales of striped bass to estimate their age in an inquiry-based laboratory investigation.”

Ken December 11, 2012 at 10:03 PM
The fish resemble a fluke or a founder rather than striped bass and porgy
Lon Cohen December 12, 2012 at 03:36 AM
You're right. I've updated the article based on additional info fromt he school. Thanks for the "catch."

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