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The debate over the importance of art education in schools has raged for decades. Opponents of art education purport that it not only represents a waste of money on the part of taxpayers but the wasted time that could be spent focusing on more important subjects like science and math. The truth is, however, that music and art are both highly scientific and highly mathematical. The reality is, there is very little division between math, science, art, and music. They are all components of each other. In fact, a study in one area can often lead to important breakthroughs in others.

Take the creation of new products for example. While people expect high performance from their products, they don’t actually buy them on the basis of performance. While a consumer might be persuaded to pay a bit more for a smartphone with a 12MP camera versus a 10MP camera, the majority of consumers really have no idea what the actual difference is. What does make them buy, however, is how it looks and that is a feature of the design. It is not a coincidence that one of the most brilliant engineers of all time (Leonardo da Vinci) is also one of the greatest artists of all time and that another of the greatest artists of all time (Michelangelo) was also an architect.

Human beings are highly visual creatures. We can’t always pinpoint exactly what attracts us to something, we just know that one thing draws our eye far more than another. The truth is, that quality that reaches out and draws us in is generally designed or engineered to do exactly that. The same principles of engineering that draw us in and make us take note of everything from a cell phone to a unique car to a unique piece of clothing is art. Art, design, and engineering are all different facets of the same discipline.

In fact, a 2008 study found that Nobel science prizewinners were seven times more likely to be visual artists than the general public. This may be why tech giants ranging from Adobe to Facebook to AutoDesk have all launched major initiatives to build greater collaboration between fine artists and engineers. Universities and other educational centers are also jumping on board with the burgeoning “SciArt movement.” The truth is, while the focus may be new, the parallels between science and art are actually as old as time.