Project: Science Alive!
Participants: Year 4 & 5 pupils 
Partnering with: Field Lane JI&N
Artist: Shelley Burgoyne
Science topic: Scientific Investigation

Working with the topic Scientific Investigation & Experimentation we have chosen to focus on changes in scientific research and discovery, and how particular scientists changed our view of the world. We will look at what has been discovered through microscopic research over time and how this information has changed the way we see the world. We will be making observational drawings of each other using microscopes, and supporting each other to use the microscopes and learn about the different levels of magnification. We will be using the school pond as our main resource and will be viewing collected samples made into slides through our microscopes. The images we collect will be used for drawings and printmaking and will finally be brought together in a large multi-layered hanging artwork.

Session Images

Session 1: 11th February 2016

We got off to a great start today with our drawing and investigating. We have been finding out about famous scientists and their research. We are focussing on changes in our world, brought about through scientific research. We used microscopes to magnify some incredibly minute samples of different things like pine roots, potato, water beetle and pollen. They have really long Latin names as well. We worked in pairs and also started some portraits of each other as scientists. There was so much energy and enthusiasm in the session! We also enjoyed seeing a drawing demonstration and have started to build images in our project books. The effects we achieved were very interesting. The whole thing was fun and we learnt a lot.

“I found this lesson very interesting as we learnt a lot about art and science at the same time”

“I really enjoyed this afternoon. We drew things and even drew each other. Shelley was very helpful and taught me lots”

“I found this lesson interesting because we looked in microscopes and we drew spider lungs”

“Doing art today was very philosophical as we found out loads about science. I really enjoyed it!”

Session 2: 25th February 2016

We have spent part of our afternoon at the school pond where we had to break a thick layer of ice on the water surface! We collected small animals and plants and brought them into the classroom to study them and make drawings in our sketchbooks. We found worms, water snails, two diving beetles, fresh water shrimps, a centipede, woodlice, slugs, one beetle and lots of interesting weed growing there. In fact although it is winter and many creatures are not active we found a lot to look at. We used pipettes as well to collect samples of water which had tiny traces of green weed floating in them. We have been magnifying the animals and plants with hand held magnifiers. We hope to look at more of this next week in the microscopes. It was a challenge to look at the creatures and draw them at the same time, but it was also very enjoyable.

“Today was really fun, we went pond dipping and found a lot of insects and plants in the pond”

“We have been using magnifiers to look at insects that we found at our pond and then drawing what we could see”

“We have been pond dipping today with our artist Shelley and it was very fun. I found two Diving Beetles that were silver and grey and beautiful. We brought our collection inside to look at them and draw them”

“We went pond dipping to find water insects and weeds. Then we did sketches of them looking through magnifying glasses. My favourite activity was drawing the bugs in our sketchbooks”

Session 3: 3rd March 2016

This session was full of surprises! Previously we have done a lot of scientific research, we went to the school pond to collect samples and we discovered new creatures that we didn’t know existed! We have made drawings looking through microscopes and magnifiers. Today we began transforming our drawings of pond creatures into prints and it was incredible to see what happened! We have been making relief prints and using very bold colours. Another surprise was that we have been developing a large drawing of a microscope which is full of creatures. We have been taking inspiration from our sketchbooks for this. The third surprise was that Donna Skeldon, who is a research scientist, came to visit us from Cummins Turbo Technologies. She joined in the session and also showed us some of the research that she is involved with. Our science learning has been really challenged finding out about the turbo technology. Our artwork research will carry on next week and there will be more discoveries then.

“We drew into the Polyblock with a pen, and it had to be deep. I liked the printing images and the coloured paper”

“Today I enjoyed drawing pictures and also the PowerPoint that Donna the scientist showed us about turbochargers and all the metals. One of the pictures looked like when you look out of an aeroplane. I also liked printing with the ink, I did something amazing and awesome”

“I enjoyed looking at the turbochargers that people make and sometimes they are not safe”

“The prints we made look really pretty. We drew onto polystyrene to create the print and then covered it with printing ink. It was fun and joyful”

Session 4: 10th March 2016

This was an action-packed afternoon. We had another opportunity to use the microscopes and look at our pond samples again. We made our own slides with the pieces of plants, weed and algae we had collected. It was exciting to do this and then do our own first-hand research using the microscopes. We made more drawings in our sketchbooks then put these into the giant microscope drawing image. This is now a huge collection of natural forms and creatures from our own observations.   We have made more prints from our Polyblock and learnt how to do a second colour. The colour prints were really amazing, we love them. Our other task was to make portraits of famous scientists. Shelley had brought a whole selection of photographs and demonstrated how we might use the images for drawing. We have found out about Alice Hamilton who was a pathologist, Anne McLaren who studied genetics, Mary Anning a palaeontologist working in the early 19th Century, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and others including our big favourite Stephen Hawking. We are looking forward to seeing all our drawings and prints at Batley Art Gallery in the summer.

“Today’s lesson was really busy with lots of activities. We drew scientists, put our research drawings into the big microscope and did printing as well. I wish this was not the last time we will be working with Shelley. It was exciting”

“I felt challenged in this lesson. We learnt about seven new scientists. We made more artwork of the pond animals and looked in the microscope. We made our own glass slides for the microscope”

“I enjoyed today because we did microscope work and drawings too. I felt like a scientist called Dorothy Hodkin. I did a drawing of her as well”

“We did a lot of fun and educational things today, including using the microscopes. We made drawings of inspirational scientists including Sir Isaac Newton – founder of Gravity. I felt really happy and pushed to learn new things. It has been an amazing experience in this project”

“We learnt more about scientific investigation again today. Alexander Fleming used observations in the microscope during his life time as a scientist. I felt inspired”

A few words from our teacher:

“Our project was effective in increasing children’s understanding of scientific enquiry and the usefulness of science. They were enthusiastic about finding out how scientists made discoveries and really enjoyed using scientific equipment. Their participation and engagement increased over the four sessions as did their inquisitiveness about science and scientists. Children create a large hanging piece of art and it was lovely to see them all gathered round this, co-operatively, sketching onto it from works in their sketch books.”

Our volunteer from Cummins Turbo Technologies said:

“I have never previously worked with a large group of children like this and it was certainly eye-opening as to how exhausting but fulfilling it is!  The class was very enthusiastic and a delight to spend time with.  It was a great opportunity for me to open their eyes to my specialist area of work in Materials Engineering and also to share in their artwork creation using microscopes to view their pond dipping findings.   It was great working with Shelley and I am looking forward to seeing the final art work at the exhibition. Having come from an artistic background myself it was great to see how the scientific principles I work with on a daily basis can be converted into some amazing artwork. I really enjoyed learning about Shelley’s involvement in scientific research and how it relates to her own artwork” (Donna Skeldon, CTT)