Story last updated at 7/8/2009 - 11:37 am
Look closely, what do you observe? The lines between science and art have been purposely smudged and shaded for students at Harborview Elementary School this spring. Both in the classroom and out in the field, pencils filled notebooks as students answered the above question using lines and shapes rather than written words.
This is "art in nature," connecting students with their surroundings and encouraging scientific observation through drawing. Thanks to a grant for an artist residency from the Artist in the Schools Program, Juneau artist Kathy Hocker led more than 200 students in thirteen second through fifth grade classes - and even one first grade class -- to take part in scientific observation and sketching activities.
Hocker set the stage indoors at Harborview School, leading activities and teaching students about the process. She visited classrooms, sharing her expertise on drawing "as a scientist" with the students. Activities included memory drawings, gesture drawings, and contour drawings, encouraging students to express their findings in different ways.
Hocker took the show on the road by accompanying each class on a spring field trip. These outings found students and sketch books in the field at camp, the beach, and in the forest, expanding their learning through field sketching. As a culminating event, the young artists hosted a Gallery Walk in May to showcase the scientific journals they created. Along the way, Hocker has provided a model by which teachers can carry on sketching from nature with their students.
Artist and naturalist Hocker grew up in Juneau. She got her undergraduate degree in biology at Harvard, and started her career teaching science to kids. She went to graduate school to study science illustration because it combined her two biggest loves - art and science. Now she divides her time between exploring the outdoors, teaching sketching classes to adults and kids, and illustrating and writing. Her books include "Singer in the Stream," "Where is Dinah Diatom?" and "Alaska's Glaciers; Frozen in Motion."
The Artist in the Schools Program is funded through a partnership between the Alaska State Council on the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the Rasmuson Foundation and Harborview PTA. It is a competitive grant program designed to bring professional artists into schools. A $15,000 grant for the upcoming 2009-2010 school year marks the 15th year the Juneau School District has been awarded this funding.