Poetry and Science - hand out

This is similar to the Ocean Poetry Lesson I posted last year. This is varied to include all science units the students studied.


Poetry can be described or defined in many ways. A good way to put it is “poetry is the art of language.”

If you compare a poem to a painting, you can say:
-the page is the canvas
-the words are the paints
-the poet is the painter
-the reader is the viewer of the painting

When you look at a painting you can notice lots of different things:
-the size of the painting
-the types of paint used: oil, water color, etc
-the colors used in the painting
-the brush strokes: thick and bold, delicate and thin
-what is in the painting: a portrait, still-life (flowers, fruit), a scene (from the landscape, from a myth), something abstract
-what the painting is meant to do: show a scene, express an idea, make you think about something in particular

When you read a poem you can notice lots of different things as well. You can think about:
-the sounds of words: the hard “k”, soft “s”, long vowels, short vowels, rhyme or slant rhyme
-the rhythm of the words: emphasis on some syllables and not others
-the pattern of the words: they could be in a formal way, like a haiku or limerick; they have a pattern but not in a particular form; or it could be free verse
-how it looks on the page: long lines or short, line breaks, stanza breaks, capital letters, punctuation
-the meaning of the words: they could describe an image, tell a story, make a collage of thoughts or scenes, send a message

Think about some of the writing and literary words you have learned this year and how you can use that knowledge in writing your poem. You have learned about:

Mental imaging – “drawing” a picture with words
Using strong verbs – words that show an action
Describing words – like adjectives and adverbs
Simile – a comparison of two things not usually compared using “like” or “as.” EXAMPLE: “That sandwich is as big as a house!”

Poets draw inspiration from all different places, things and ideas. Emily Dickinson incorporated nature, and particularly flower--because she liked to garden so much, into her work. Other artists draw inspiration from space and stars, forests landscapes, the ocean, insects, geology and so on. You have or will soon study most of these things in science class.

Your assignment is to write a poem inspired by a science unit you have studied or will be studying. Use the Science Unit sheet with vocabulary to help you think of ideas. Just like Emily Dickinson used her intricate knowledge of flowers and nature to enhance her poems, think of how science words help make perfect pictures in the minds of your readers. There are many types of poems to write. Here are some ideas:

-the lines of the poem DO NOT have to rhyme. Try writing at least one poem that doesn’t have rhyming lines and at least one that does have rhyming lines. Some people feel more creative when trying to rhyme. Others like when they don’t have to rhyme.
-describe an image or several images
-tell a story, real or imagined
-write the lyrics to a song
-use a particular form, like an acrostic or haiku
-write about one thing and describe it in detail
-make a found poem: look through a non-fiction book and pick out your favorite words and use them in your poem
-other ideas? __________________________________________________

Here’s some guidelines for writing a poem:

DRAFT your poem on scrap paper
REVISE your poem – re-read it on your own, share it with a friend and be open to suggestions and questions, and read it aloud to yourself
EDIT for correct spelling, usage, punctuation and grammar

When your poem is ready, you will write it on the piece of paper provided. First write it out in pencil, then trace over it in marker and decorate it in marker. Keep in mind that your paper will be photocopied so colors will only come out in black and white.

Small presses and publishers of poetry often create broadsides of a poet’s work. It is a fine arts project featuring one or more poems and some drawing or design on a stiff piece of paper, like cardstock. It’s a nice way for a poet to show his or her work to lots of people, since it doesn’t cost as much money to produce as a book. You will create a broadside of your poem. Then we will copy them to make a class book from it.