Teaching teachers to integrate cichlid phylogeny, resin sculptures, and drawing in k12+ classrooms

The longer I am involved with art-science integration, the more time I get to spend teaching teachers — teaching them how to use drawing in science education.

Cichlid specimen (R) & cichlid sculptural models (L)
It’s an incredible perk of the work I do, as I’ve written about before.In June, I co-taught a Summer Teaching Institute focused on “Exploring Art & Science.” The institute was organized by the University of Wyoming Art Museum’s Education Curator Katie Christensen, along with Master Teacher Heather Bender, and Artmobile Coordinator Erica Ramsey. Together, they and the rest of the Art Museum team are great advocates and partners for art-science work on campus and beyond.

During the institute, my teaching focus was drawing-based science learning and assessment strategies. We started with basic drawing techniques. I walked participants through a toolkit development session which involved lots of practice drawing. Several of these techniques are discussed in previous newsletters and/or in my guide Sketching and Field Journal Basics.

We also discussed how to facilitate these techniques so that students have lots of informal low-stakes practice before they are formally assessed (the difference, say, between in-class practice and a test). Skill- and confidence-building like this is a critical part of engaging students in the benefits of drawing to learn.

We then applied these skills to observational drawings of cichlids (an extremely diverse group of fishes which includes tilapia). The cichlid specimens were provided by Dr. Katie Wagner, ecologist-in-residence for the institute. Dr. Wagner, along with Drs Dorothy Tuthill and Brian Barber, spent the week helping us all better understand descent-with-modification and other elements of the evolutionary process.

Ultimately, with the guidance of sculptor Adrian Vetter, participants sketched out plans, and sketched to document progress, as they made fish mobiles (based on cichlids) which demonstrated the principles of phylogenetic trees.

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We’re doing some distance-learning elements of the institute throughout the rest of the month, and by then we should have a solid sense of how participants will use these practices in their own classrooms.

If you’re interested in how to facilitate any of these activities in your own educational setting, I’d love to chat and/or connect you with my co-instructors.

Sketchbook Snapshot: illustrating tortoises and hares

“Too much importance cannot be given to drawing, as it is not only an excellent device for securing close observation, but it is also a rapid method of making valuable notes.”

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Inspired by Louis Agassiz, the Harvard Committee of Ten insisted that drawing be an essential part of science education at their institution. While this curricular edict was issued in 1894, it is a learning and research recommendation whose value I rediscover every time I work on the “Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare.”

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Right now, I am chipping away at storyboards and draft text for version of the story which will be exhibited at the University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute in Spring 2017. Continue reading Sketchbook Snapshot: illustrating tortoises and hares

Sketching Tip: Reproducibility & DIY Stickers

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Reproducible methods (and results) are a key part of rigorous science. And reproducing art has been part of doing art for centuries.

So this month’s tip making stickers – an easy and cheap way to make reproductions of your own SciArt. Continue reading Sketching Tip: Reproducibility & DIY Stickers

September 2016 Newsletter: Making Connections through SciArt

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I spent much of the summer contributing to/planning two summer teaching institutes at the University of Wyoming, working on an art-as-science research manuscript with some great collaborators in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and crafting some illustrations of native bees for a science ed/outreach initiative based in North Carolina. And most recently, I helped facilitate UW’s first ever SciArt Symposium, which was a fascinating blend of both fields.

Through it all, I’ve been thinking about my genuine interest in being a catalyst and idea-sharer, helping others access the pleasure and productive aspects of art-science integration.

And so, this month’s newsletter focuses on some of the ideas and info I’ve encountered and shared this summer, with an eye toward connecting you to others’ ideas.

Happy sketching!

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September Table of Contents

  • Sketching Tip: Sketching at zoos and aquariums (guest tip!)
  • Artful Science: Stardom – Women in science and the arts
  • Artful Classrooms: Drawing in the Classroom – Ideas in practice
  • Sketchbook Snapshot: Experimenting through repetition
  • News & Events:
    • Illustrated greeting cards for staying in touch this summer
    • University of Wyoming Natural History Class – student workshop
    • Bee Germs illustrations are live!
    • University of Wyoming SciArt Symposium follow-up

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August 2016 Newsletter: Taste of Summer

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August Table of Contents

  • Sketching Tip: Shading with color
  • Artful Science: Summer in a Glass
  • Artful Classrooms: Tasty Osmosis
  • Sketchbook Snapshot: Homegrown sketches
  • News & Events:
    • Illustrated greeting cards for staying in touch this summer
    • University of Wyoming SciArt Symposium
    • National Park Service/UW residency outcomes

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