Horses in Science through Art


This web site presents images of art from the past and present and then invites you to make connections with science and technology. The images were found in the SJSU World Art Gallery, an ongoing project directed by Professor Kathleen Cohen, SJSU Art History Dept. Dr. Cohen, who travels extensively, photographed nearly all the works of art features in the Gallery. She gives permission to teachers to use the from the web site for instructional purposes. The images for this site on horses are organized into the sections described below. Some images appear in more than one section. This web site can help you learn more about horses AND about learning from pictures. So, observe closely and ask questions or "have a science conversation" with a work of art. Please remember that this site is in progress and additional images and questions will be added in the near future.


Ask questions and find possible answers or ideas by observing carefully and thinking about what you see. Some questions are provided to get you started, but be sure to ask more questions of your own.

jade horse

Art Media
What did artists and craftsmen use to produce pictures and figures of horses? How did they make their art? How do science and technology support art?

Do artists need to know anatomy? How does knowledge of horse anatomy help the artist paint in a convincing way?

In Motion
How do horses move? Can you find the "center of balance"? Consider the physics and physiology of movement as you study horses in art.

Horses have been domesticated for thousands of years. Technology (the use of knowledge) has changed the roles of horses and how humans have used horses through time. Find out how.

This list of interesting or useful Internet sites, books, and other resources may help you find out more or suggest ways to carry out your own scholarly research.Glossary linked to other sections.


Visual Literacy

Pictures are important when gathering and processing information. Visual literacy involves (a) being able to interpret pictures, (b) being able to think with images, and (c) being able to communicate with images. Humans are born curious and, during early development, quickly become aware of, and react to, visual patterns around us. Mental images are incorporated naturally into thinking. An estimated 85% of the population think visually. However, nurturing and training at home and at school are necessary to optimally develop abilities in interpreting, communicating, and mentally manipulating visual images.

This web site uses images of horses found in art. A variety of questions accompany the images and different kinds of thinking are involved in answering them. All are examples of questions that require looking carefully at the images in order to answer, i.e., the images are key elements, not optional.


Science Thinking Processes, Pictures, and Questions

What thinking processes do students use when they look at images? and when they answer questions? This depends on their experience with images, i.e., whether they have learned how to look at a picture, interpret it, and/or ask themselves questions that can be answered by inspecting the picture closely. Here are some thinking processes in science that might be required to answer the questions in the Horses module. You should include additional thinking processes in the list as they occur to you. This chart is adapted from The California Science Framework Addendum, 1984, p. 4, a summarizing chart developed by Dr. Lawrence Lowery. Note that the terms used to identify processes are defined differently in different contexts. It is always a good idea to check for common understanding when using them in academic discussions.

Grade Range

Thinking Processes

Learners' Developmental Stages
Static-Organizational Principles

OBSERVING: seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling

Sensory Motor

COMMUNICATING: silent, oral, written, pictorial


COMPARING (includes measuring): sensory comparisons, relative positive comparisons, linear comparisons, weight comparisons, capacity comparisons, quantity comparisons


ORGANIZING:data gathering, sequencing, grouping, classifying

Concrete Operational


All of the above AND Active-Relational, Interactive Principles

RELATING: using space-time relationships, formulating experimental hypotheses, controlling and manippulating variables, experimenting



All of the above AND Explanatory-Predictive, Theoretical Principles
Formal Operational

INFERRING: synthesizing, analyzing, generalizing, recognizing and predicting patterns, stating laws, formulating explanatory models and theorizing



All of the above AND Usable-Applicational Principles

APPLYING: using knowledge to solve problems, inventing (technology)