Drawn to Natural History: Facilitation advice and classroom examples for instructors integrating drawing into science classes

This summer, a publication I led was published in the academic journal Natural Sciences Education. Like other resources I’ve shared, this article aims to ‘demystify’ the use of drawing for teaching and learning in science classrooms.

While the paper reports on ways of doing this in university classes, the advice, examples, and resources in the article will be equally useful for K-12 educators.

Continue reading Drawn to Natural History: Facilitation advice and classroom examples for instructors integrating drawing into science classes

Drawn to Science Communication: Art-Science Synergy as a Career and a Way of Life

I recently gave an invited career talk at the 2020 annual conference of the Ecological Society of America. In case others are interested, I thought I would share the video (with captions) here.

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There have also been a number of responses to this talk which have led me to consider doing some recorded Zoom/video conversations, to capture discussion, advice, and more. Stay tuned for more on that front, and feel free to submit questions, advice, and resources via the comments section!

Her Flag: Celebrate equality & natural heritage on March 21st

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36 states ratified the 19th amendment. 36 female artists designed stripes for Her Flag, a massive flag to commemorate these states.

I was selected to design Wyoming’s stripe! This Saturday, it will be sewn into the flag (which is ultimately 18 feed by 26 feet!).


Her Flag | Live (online) | March 21, 2020 @ 1:00 PM MDT

Join us through the live stream:
-Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/herflag2020/
-Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/herflag2020/


My design honors 36 women who inspired and informed my own understanding of equality. These women are all modern women, such as my sisters, mom, aunts, mother-in-law, mentors, and collaborators. Some of these women taught me to empower other women. A few taught me about natural history. One taught me how to teach people about science. Another taught me how to garden, and one introduced me to bluegrass.

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Left to right: My maternal grandmother, paternal grandmother, and two great aunts, joined by a pair of Wyoming’s iconic bison.

Intertwined throughout the stripe, I also added familiar elements of biodiversity that make a place home such as local wildflowers, the Wyoming toad, ladybug, chickadee, Indian paintbrush, beaver, yucca seed, bison, pronghorn, and more. The background is made of 36 four-patch quilt squares, sewn from my great grandmother’s quilt scraps.

More Information

Stay tuned for Wyoming-specific follow-up project I’m working on with support from the University of Wyoming Office of Engagement and Outreach!

Media Coverage

More details are available in the following links:

 

Drawing Science: An Interview with Interalia Magazine

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In March 2019, Richard Bright of Interalia Magazine interviewed me for the journal’s Drawing Thoughts series. Drawing Thoughts explores contemporary thinking on the practice of drawing, discussing its creative, expressive and educational value, and its fundamental importance to translating and analysing the world. The issue’s overarching aim is to affirm the value of drawing.

A lengthy excerpt of my interview is available on line here. The full-text is available to Interalia subscribers.

Artful Science: Learning by drawing

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Work in progress: illustration of a Wyoming toad (© B.G. Merkle, 2017)

One of my favorite things about being an artist is getting to learn about other people’s science.

For example, in the past couple of years, I’ve learned:

  • about traditional ecological knowledge relating to caribou genetics (link)
  • several fish species build nests (link; my take)
  • citizen science is helping Wyoming biologists track amphibian populations (link)
  • bees have germs, and these germs can be studied (link)
  • dogs are a big concern when trying to reintroduce bighorn sheep near cities in the Southwest (link)
  • you can make pants for frogs (link; my take)
  • there are many different ways to measure biodiversity (link)

It’s been pretty neat to learn about all these things, and I’m excited to think there’s no telling what I’ll learn about next!