Students Aid Conservation Through Science Illustration!


Great Collaborations: Science + Art

During the 2013 spring semester, Politi Elementary students took on the theme of great collaborations between science and art. First they examined cave paintings from 30,000 years ago by going on a virtual expedition into the Chauvet Cave in France with an interdisciplinary team (biologists, geologists, anthropologists, art historians, and artists). Students then created their own cave paintings using methods similar to the original cave artists: direct observation of nature and memory, and charcoal and earth pigments as media. For our second adventure, we virtually explored the libraries of medieval Europe to find illuminated manuscripts. Students learned that every book used to be copied by hand, making each one a great treasure. Students then studied calligraphy and graphic design in order to create their own illuminated manuscripts about California wildlife, using parchment, calligraphy pens, and colored pencils. For our final adventure of the school year, students virtually joined William Beebe (scientist) and Else Bostelmann (artist) in 1930s Bermuda to explore deep sea habitat. We learned how the bathysphere worked to help humans explore habitat over 3000 feet below the ocean’s surface, and we studied the adaptations that deep sea animals have to survive in their environment (bioluminescence, reliance on their sense of touch, bodies able to withstand great pressure). Check out our Cave Painting, Illuminated Manuscript, and Deep Sea Adventure Galleries!

Bat Illustration Workshop

In the fall of 2012, students in grades 4-5 (and one 2nd-grader!) at Leo Politi Elementary studied how bats work. Students virtually explored caves, learned how bats use echolocation to find prey, and studied the important ecological services that bats provide (like pollination and seed dispersal). Students also explored how bats have inspired culture, including poetry, visual arts, and music. The exciting illustrations that students produced can be viewed at the Bat Illustration Gallery.

Habitat Time Travel - Los Angeles 

 In the spring of 2012, students in grades 3-5 at Leo Politi Elementary studied the wildlife species that likely inhabited the Los Angeles area hundreds of years ago and species that live here now. Embarking on two multi-sensory virtual hikes, students explored habitats (coastal sage scrub, grassland, oak woodland, riparian, and wetland) and learned how native wildlife was (and is) adapted to survive in these habitats. A few of the concepts covered included echolocation, eye-shine, food web relationships, amphibian metamorphosis, and learning to identify animals using tracks and vocalizations. The outstanding work that students produced can be viewed at the Habitat Time Travel Gallery.

"Kill Your Lawn" Comic Book

During the summer of 2011, a core group of students in Los Angeles Audubon's Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Program completed artwork for the "Kill Your Lawn" comic book. This project was one aspect of the TogetherGreen Fellowship grant received by Los Angeles Audubon, and the goal was to create a comic-style brochure for the public about the conservation value of replacing lawn with native plant species. These students worked hard, dedicating five weeks of their summer break to the project, and they created outstanding comics that address the whys and hows of killing your lawn, how to care for native plants, and designing a food and native plant garden. We are extremely proud of the work these students have done! See the finished comics in the Kill Your Lawn Gallery.  You can download the entire comic book here. Also, be sure to check out our facebook photo album with step-by-step details about  how the students created the comic book.

Insect and Arachnid  Illustration  Workshop

In Fall of 2011 students in grades 3-5 at Leo Politi Elementary studied insects and arachnids. Students learned about insect and arachnid anatomy, life cycles, adapations for survival, and participated in an "insect symphony." To address the conservation problem of people killing these fascinating animals, Politi illustrators created illustrations that focused on explaining ladybug metamorphosis (which can be observed in the Politi School Yard Habitat), as well as the many ways that spiders use silk. Be sure to check out their diligent work in the Ladybug Metamorphosis Gallery and the Spider Gallery.

Least Tern  Illustration  Workshop

In Fall of 2010, Los Angeles Audubon received funding from the TogetherGreen Fellowship Program to integrate science illustration instruction into our environmental education programs. In December 2010, a group of Weemes Elementary School students in grades 4-5 participated in the Least Tern Illustration Workshop. They compared and contrasted the biology of the California Least Tern and Western Snowy Plover, both federally listed species, to gain a greater understanding of how these two species use sandy beach habitat in Los Angeles. They learned about how scientific names work and the importance of using words and art together in order to communicate ideas about conservation. Students then used science illustration techniques (and a lot of dedicated practice) to create detailed illustrations of the California Least Tern, both chicks and adults. Be sure to check out their excellent work and the tern facts these students want you to know in the Least Tern Gallery. 

Bird  Illustration  Workshop

In Fall of 2010, Los Angeles Audubon received funding from the TogetherGreen Fellowship Program to integrate science illustration instruction into our environmental education programs. To kick off this new venture, we worked with students from Leo Politi Elementary School to help them create illustrations of the birds they've observed in their Coastal Sage Scrub Habitat Garden on campus. Students attended five after-school illustration sessions where they compared bird anatomy and morphology to that of mammals and insects, studied the work of other natural science illustrators, and spent hours carefully creating their own bird illustrations. Check out their work in the Birds of Leo Politi Elementary Gallery.

Snowy Plover  Illustration  Workshop

In Spring of 2010, Los Angeles Audubon received funding from Audubon California, the Morrissey Family Foundation, and the Toyota Pennies for the Planet program to engage elementary school students in a poster art contest that focused on the threatened Snowy Plover. We worked with students from both Leo Politi and Weemes Elementary Schools. Through in-class presentations, fieldtrips to observe and collect data on Snowy Plovers in their habitat, and after-school science illustration sessions, students in grades 2-5 learned about Snowy Plover conservation and some fundamentals of science illustration. Over 50 students created posters to promote the idea of sharing the shore with Snowy Plovers. Checkout their excellent work in the Snowy Plover Gallery. 

Botanical  Illustration  Workshop

As a companion education program to Leo Politi Elementary’s School Yard Habitat Project, Los Angeles Audubon developed an after-school Botanical Illustration Workshop in the Spring of 2010. More than 25 students in grades 3-5 learned about flower anatomy by dissecting flowers and creating illustrations of the dissections, and students learned about field sketching and cartography by creating maps of their school garden. As a final project, students created botanical illustrations of native plants found in their coastal sage scrub habitat garden using photo references, real-life observation, and professional science illustration techniques. It took each student 2-3 hours to complete the final work you’ll find in the Native Plant Gallery

Below are a few snapshots of these science illustrators in action!