Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, the event for which February is probably best known. Today I propose that there is a bigger and better event in February. This event is Digital Learning Day. A new national movement, the second annual Digital Learning Day was celebrated just last week. This national campaign celebrates “education champions who seek to engage students, celebrate and empower teachers, and create a healthy learning environment, personalized for every child.”
Allow me to stray just a bit from the usual drawing-specific topics covered in this column. I am not straying too far, really, as today’s featured activity can be implemented as a clever way of encouraging the collection of quality reference photographs — resources valued highly by all botanical artists and natural science illustrators.
Meet Wendy Walker-Livingston. Drawing upon her fond memories of scavenger hunts at summer camp, science teacher Wendy Walker-Livingston created a scavenger hunt about plants in which learning is reinforced through field work and technology. She describes her 21st-century scavenger hunt in the article, Botanical Scavenger Hunt.
Walker-Livingston’s field adventure is exactly what you’d expect a scavenger hunt to be — a mad dash with list in-hand and a sprint to the finish line.
What is different about Walker-Livingston’s scavenger hunt is that participants are not collecting objects. Instead, what they are collecting are images. In this case, images of 16 key plant characteristics used in plant identification (Walker-Livingston, 2009) that were collected using digital cameras and cell phones. Today, of course, you can add iPods and tablets to this list of image-capturing devices.
When conducting this activity, Walker-Livingston (2009) prepares students for their scavenger hunt by first introducing them to botanical terminology, plant morphology, plant classification and dichotomous keys. When distributing the list for the scavenger hunt, she tells students they have 50 minutes to collect photographs of the characteristics on their list and 10 minutes to download their images.
The day (or two) after the scavenger hunt, each student team is given 60 minutes to create a 3-minute multimedia presentation that includes a narrated description of the images they collected.
Walker-Livingston (2009) says her activity has been successful on many levels. Students love the activity, the multimedia project helps students verbalize their new knowledge and the project successfully addresses the various ways learners interact with the world, ways Howard Gardner describes in his theory of multiple intelligences.
Walker-Livingston’s Botanical Scavenger Hunt is easy to add to your teaching toolbox. This article can be purchased online for 99¢ from the NSTA store.
Walker-Livingston, Wendy. 2009. Botanical scavenger hunt. Science Scope. 32(6): 31-34.