Let’s learn about creativity

Science could help explain how creativity works, and creativity could help you learn science

a boy in an orange sweatshirt and cargo pants draws on an easel with charcoal

Creative activities such as drawing or singing may help people learn science.

gilaxia/Getty Images

Science and creativity might seem unrelated. One deals with cold, hard facts. The other is often expressed through art. But science and creativity are tightly linked. (This is one reason you often see Art added to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, turning STEM to STEAM.) Scientists need creativity to come up with questions and solve problems. And science is helping explain what exactly creativity is — and how to tap into it.

Some brain scans hint that doing a creative activity is a unique state of consciousness that draws on two different brain networks at once. One network is associated with attention and self-control. The other has been linked to daydreaming. Simply letting one’s mind wander can also invite in creative thoughts. That imaginative leisure seems to produce a distinct signature of brainwaves. Similarly, drifting off to sleep may open the mind to creative insights.

Pursuing creative activities, such as making art or music, seems to boost people’s moods. It may also boost people’s ability to learn science.

Want to know more? We’ve got some stories to get you started:

Nodding off may turn your creativity on Insights may come just as you shift from between being awake to being asleep. (1/26/2022) Readability: 7.0

Study is first to link brainwaves to certain forms of thought Electrical activity in the brain reveals when we are focused or allowing our minds to wander freely. (3/8/2021) Readability: 7.0

Art can make science easier to remember Students who learn science using art remember what they learned longer than those in regular classes. (4/19/2019) Readability: 7.6

It might seem like the more freedom you have to come up with ideas, the more creative you can be. But constraints are an important part of the creative process.

Explore more

Scientists Say: Brainwaves

Why fandom feels good — and may be good for you

What is IQ — and how much does it matter?

Computers are changing how art is made

Artificial intelligence challenges what it means to be creative (Science News)


Word find

Have you ever wanted to work on a creative project but weren’t sure where to start? Try using prompts! They can serve as a great jumping off point for writing a story or drawing a picture.

Maria Temming is the Assistant Managing Editor at Science News Explores. She has bachelor's degrees in physics and English, and a master's in science writing.

More Stories from Science News Explores on Brain