Using Art to Teach Science

MMNS teacher training-8391I attended a workshop at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science on using art to teach science. Teachers who were in Jackson for the Mississippi Art Education Association conference had the chance to earn continuing education credits for attending the workshop. I was there to learn more about writing lesson plans to formalize the teaching I do in my school residencies. The first thing we did was go out onto the trails behind the museum to draw what we saw. Our teacher was Limeul Eubanks, director of visual arts and library media services at the state Department of Education.

He pointed out this beautiful bird and I tiptoed up and started sketching — as fast as I could. I don’t draw very fast or very well, but I was determined to get something down before this bird moved. Then, after I had a quick sketch, I took a few photos. I winced as the shutter clicked and looked sheepishly at Limeul. Remarkably, the bird kept still. I had time to make another quick sketch.

Several groups of students came through. As they approached us, they quieted down and started tiptoeing and staring at the bird. Several asked whether the bird was real. I said, “Yes, I saw its head move.” Several of the high school boys seemed so interested in the drawing we were doing that one of the teachers tore some pages out of her journal and handed them each a pencil. Upon learning that most of us were art teachers, the boys said they didn’t have art at their school.

MMNS teacher training-8415At the end of our session outside, one of Limeul’s helpers reached over into the leaves and picked up the bird’s stand. It was stuffed. I was floored. And embarassed. I told the kids who came back through and saw the bird being walked into the museum that I hadn’t told them anything I didn’t believe myself. I have always been a trusting soul. It turns out I could have gotten a good bit closer and gotten a really nice shot. We went out again later in the morning and picked up leaves. I found this beauty. It didn’t even fit in my bag.

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