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Wondrous Watersheds

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Student research of local and international watersheds and the importance of water resources worldwide. Study of 18th Century Naturalist scientists and connections between art and science. Final project includes student artworks for submission to the international contest Rivwer of Wirds sponsored by the Library of Congress.

Text of Wondrous Watersheds

  • 1. Wondrous Watersheds Getting to Know Natural [email protected] Home and Abroad Naturalist Studies of [email protected] Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Area Wildlife Refuge andWonga Wetlands Albury NSW, Australia

2. Project Overview Students at Palo Alto High School in California studied the habitats of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge and the Wonga Wetlands in Albury NSW, Australia to explore the similarities of wetlands communities around the world. They studied the artwork of early European Naturalists in the Bay Area and NSW to understand the role of artists as scientists who recorded the flora & fauna of these similar regions. On their field trip they practiced drawing skills as Naturalists and researched ideas for oil crayon paintings for a school exhibition of world wetlands and for submission to the international contestRiver of Words that celebratesthe Art & Literature of worldwide wetlands. 3. Artist Scientists Students studied artworks of early European Naturalists to the Bay Area from copies ofBay Naturemagazine and copies of Cooks Voyage to Botany Bay from the National Library of Australia. They studied about Joseph Banks and Adelbert von Chamissos work as artist-scientists in early exploration. This study supported their Drawing unit as well as an historical and scientific study of recording the flora and fauna of wetlands habitats. For homework students brought a nature object to study details and sketch as artist-Naturalists. Hadas found a pine cone on campus and refers to the illustrations of Chamissos flower sketches of the San Francisco Bay from Bay Nature magazine, and Joseph Banks plant studies from the Endeavour Voyage handout from the National Library of Australia. Early Naturalists provided a model for environmental study through Art. 4. Nature Drawing:Observing the Details Their first outdoor education experience for the project was to literally go outside the classroom door - to draw the Nature surrounding our classroom.Being aware of how Nature surrounds us everywhere we go is a key concept of observing the world as Naturalist. 5. Models for Envisioning the Land Outdoor Education Centers in NSW served as models for teaching students environmental concepts in local natural habitats. Gibberagong director Bruce Foott uses the Earth Education model incorporating; cycling, adaptation, change & interrelationships to inspire students to become caring stewards of their local community resources. Nick Johnson, director of the Birragai Outdoor Education Center in Canberra, notes that land experience inspires a commitment from students to adapt sustainable practices. Environmental education is a required part of the National Curriculum in Australia. 6. Outdoor Education Inspired by formal outdoor education models in NSW, students went on a field trip to the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge in Fremont, CA. to study local wildlife up close in their own neighborhood. Salt ponds, mudflats, and marshlands are the primary habitats in this area. At the Visitor Center, Patrick and Chollay find five native plants or animals that interest them to draw in their sketchbooks as they practice being artist-scientists. Looking at habitat up close helps students to decide which animal or plant to use as their subject for theRiver of Wordspaintings, while seeing how early naturalists spent time to carefully study the details of plants and animals in their habitats. 7. Getting to Know the Natural Neighbors Stephen sketches a variety of wild ducks that frequent the Bay year round. Peter and Jessica study the unique adaptations of seabirds that inhabit the Farallon Islands. Cormorants, puffins and murres spend most of their lives at sea, coming to land to nest off the coast of San Francisco. 8. Studying Habitats of the Bay Students visited the Don Edwards WLR online to learn about the habitats of the refuge the week before visiting the wetlands refuge on a class field trip. So, it was exciting to actually study the wetlands in person. Mary, Lorena and Chollay spend some time sketching the panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay from the hillside above the salt marsh and mudflats of the wildlife refuge. 9. CommunityCoastalConnections Students had the opportunity to participate in an extra credit assignment for their Naturalist Project by attending the California Coastal Clean-Up on September 16, 2006. Regional parks, including Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge coordinated volunteers to help clean-up coastal areas to preserve habitat for area birds and native plants. Dates for the annual Coastal Clean-up and resources for watershed curriculum can be found at: California Coastal Commission Clean-Up Day On this day, 50,000 volunteers turn out to over 700 cleanup sites statewide to conduct what has been hailed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest garbage collection (1993). Since the program started in 1985, nearly 700,000 Californians have removed more than 10 million pounds of debris from our state's shorelines and coast. Most of the marine debris that we find on our beaches actually starts as urban trash or street litter, so this continuing effort to stop trash where it starts has actually increased the amount of trash picked up per person each year. 10. Students visited websites for the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Area National Wildlife Refuge to get to know the habitat of their local wetlands, then visited the website for the Wonga Wetlands in Albury NSW, to see the similarities of another wetlands community across the world. They took notes on the habitat and drew sketches of animals, plants and habitat that were interesting for them at both wetlands areas to understandthe importance of preserving wetlands habitat throughout the world. Websites: Visiting Virtual Wetlands 11. Visual Research in Science Texts Students used the textbookThe Nature Company Guide: The Walkers Companionby David Rains Wallace to research animals and habitats of North America. They focused on the type of watershed in each biozone. Students sketched some of their favorite animals in a process to select one animal to draw for theRiver of Wordscontest. Gaby and Kaitlin look through the text for interesting animals or plants. River of Wordsis an international contest of students Artwork, and Poetry aboutwatersheds, sponsored by the Library of Congress. The goal of this project was to teach students about watersheds and have them make personal connections with the plants and animals in watershed habitats. Caterina sketches a Bighorn Sheep from an alpine meadow watershed. 12. Drawing From Nature John James AudubonsBirds of Americaand John GouldsBirds of Australiabrought them acclaim from scientific and artistic communities. Their artworks, published from 1839-1848, set the standard for Naturalist painting and publication for 150 years with ornithological accuracy and artistic color plates of bird species. Kaitlyn and Hadas research the history of documenting Nature as a subject. The Art textbook included an excellent section on Naturalist painting, while a field guide to birds included a history of artists contributions on European voyages of discovery around the world. 13. Community Connections In one section of assigned reading, students learned that the drawings from early Naturalists popularized the use of Nature imagery for design and domestic decoration. A local chocolate shop had specialty boxes in the shape of fish, a tasty lesson in how Nature designs are popularized in contemporary Art. 14. Visual Research Using a class laptop to find a photograph of California Poppies, Hadas refines the details for her Nature subject. Students used class textbooks, Internet research and nature magazines for photographic references for their nature subject paintings forRiver of Words . 15. Watershed Landscapes Hadas uses references from the classroom display board for wetlands habitat. She found images on-line for her photographic reference for a painting of California Poppies. She examines drawings of California poppies by 19 thC. Naturalist Adelbert von Chamisso who visited the Bay Area in 1816 as part of the crew for a Russian expedition. 16. Research Connections After visiting the National Wildlife Refuge, Peter is intrigued by the puffins of the Farallon Islands for his Naturalist subject. He uses an issue ofAudobonmagazine to paint the details of the puffin and its habitat of rocky ledges and encompassing ocean. 17. Studying the Details Sophie uses an issue ofAudobonmagazine as a reference to draw the realistic details of the variety of corals from the reef that surrounds her Naturalist subject. Copies ofAudobon ,National Geographic , and other nature magazines are a rich source of artistic imagery and visual research for the Art classroom. 18. Local Inhabitants of Our Watershed Patrick sketches a collared lizard found along Coyote Creek in the Bay Area watershed. Using colored pencils he carefully texturizes the details of its habitat of rocks, sand, and cottonwood bark. 19. The Biozones Rule Eddie researches details for a desert lizard and its habitat. California has eight of the nine Earth biozones, including marine, mountain, desert, and rainforest. 20. Fishing for a Subject Stephen knew right away that he wanted a brightly colored fish from a coral reef for his Naturalist subject. Oil pastels with their rich color saturation were a great choice to capture the rich colors of fish on a coral reef.Other students chose animals from forest, mountain, meadow, and marshland habitats. 21. On the Subject of Birds Megan studies the details of the Eastern Bluebird and includes its primary food source of berries from the tallgrass prairie. Alexa carefully selects a variety of red colored pencils to sketch in the details of a brightly colored species of cardinal: Pyrrhuloxia. 22. Favorite Flora & Fauna For her final painting, she selected the cover of an issue ofBay Natureas her photographic resource. She uses a blending tool to create the rough texture of cattails from the frogs habitat. Nicole took a long time to select the right photograph of a frog, her chosen subject from the beginning. Her preliminary sketches were from the science textbook. 23. Art & Literature of the Watershed When they finished their Naturalist paintings and drawings, students wrote poems or essays about their Nature subject and its watershed. Peter goes online to find details about his puffin subject while Nicole and Patrick write their draft poems describing their Nature subject, its habitat, and the reason it is important to them and worth preserving. I played a video with music accompanying visual segments of regional habitats. They mounted their paintings on presentation board along with poems for a library exhibition. 24. Library Exhibition Watershed paintings and drawings were displayed in the school library along with an introduction about the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge and Wonga Wetlands to inform the school community about the importance of preserving wetlands habitats worldwide. 25. Don Edwards SF-Bay Area Wildlife Refuge / Wonga Wetlands Albury Bay Nature Magazine River of Words International Student Art & Literature of the Wetlands Contest Flyways map for US bird migration patternsIncludes gallery of photographs and paintings for visual Flyways map for Australian bird migration patterns Resources and References 26. Nature Company Guide: The Walkers Companion Conceived and published by Weldon Owen Pty Limited 43 Victoria Street McMahons Point NSW,2060,Australia Time-Life Books Consultant Editor:David Rains WallaceISBN 0-7835-4754-4 Birds of the World David Aderton, Hermes House Publishing, 88 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8HA UK, 2006[email_address] ISBN 0-681-10388-4 The Complete Guide to Drawing and Painting An Oceana Book, Quantum Publishing, Ltd. 6 Blundell Street, London N7 9BH , 2006ISBN 0-681-28865-5 Kakadu National Park http:// /Park homepage with downloadable Park Guide that includes excellent illustrations and photographs. Art center links with Dreamtime, heritage and landscape sections. PBS webpage on Kakaduhttp:// /Includes teacher resources, the six seasons, animals of Kakadu, and controversial land use challenges. Special thanks to Fulbright-Australia for making this Watersheds exploration possible