Service-Learning classes team up to create museum books for kids
The brown fish owl with its scholarly gaze seems real enough to touch as it rises off the front cover of a booklet created by La Sierra University students.
The 3-dimensional image and the illustrated booklet, “Explorer’s Guide to Birds!” as well as a second book with 3-D elements, “Explorer’s Guide to Minerals!” were designed for the educational benefit of local elementary school children who visit La Sierra’s World Museum of Natural History. This summer La Sierra students are completing a third book that depicts the animals displayed in the museum, a collection that includes primates, carnivores and species of Asian animals.
The booklets are the product of a partnership between a communication class and an art class at La Sierra that have Service-Learning components requiring students to work with community organizations. The communication class called “Edutainment,” taught by professor Mary Wilson has worked with 2nd graders from nearby Lincoln Alternative Elementary School for several years. Their interactions always culminate in a tour of La Sierra’s natural history museum.
Two years ago, the communication class created an interactive handout about the museum animals for the elementary students to use during their tour. This year the project broadened through a partnership with a Senior Seminar in Art class taught by art professor and Service-Learning Director Susan Patt, to collaborate on the booklets project.
“Students of both classes got together and brain-stormed in terms of content, format, structure, design, realizing there was no budget,” Patt said. “Fortunately I learned of some ‘Innovation in Teaching’ funds from the National Science Foundation grant that were being made available and I wrote a proposal. We were awarded a grant of $3,000 to produce two booklets and purchase 3-D glasses, and the excitement began.”
The La Sierra students worked hard to produce the booklets in time for a March museum visit by the elementary students and their families. The communication students studied California state educational standards for 2nd – 4th graders, researched fun facts about rocks, minerals and birds, met with Lincoln’s 2nd grade teacher, and observed the elementary children. The La Sierra art students also met with the elementary teacher and students, researched similar materials produced by other museums and took charge of art, design and photography tasks, including 3-D photos. Professional designer and photographer Michael Easley, a La Sierra alum and former student of Patt’s, served as project manager. Brad Wilson, son of Mary Wilson, photographed all rocks and minerals.
The booklets contain pages of photos with descriptions of birds, minerals and fun facts about each. For instance, halite, or sodium chloride, is described as rock salt used for de-icing roads during winter. The pages contain additional 3-D photos, mazes and other games, and a ‘Cool Scientific Experiment’ kids can try at home.
Art major Lauren Prado, who graduated June 15 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, was among a key group of art students who burned the midnight oil illustrating and designing the booklets in time for the museum event. As project illustrator, she drew all of the cartoon characters, animals, birds and minerals in the booklets. She is currently drawing new animals and game pages for the next booklet on museum animals, expected to go to print in July.
“What made this project worthwhile was the day the elementary students showed up to the museum,” Prado said. “The way the children ran around the space with the booklets in hand made me understand why this was an important project to be a part of.”