Sunday, August 12, 2018

4 Ways to Say Goodbye

I am saying goodbye to Central Virginia after living here for over 12 years. My home in Lynchburg is on 3 acres (much of it trees) that borders a large rails-to-trails park system along the Black Water Creek. I have probably spend over 1500 hours walking on the trails and riding on the bike path over the years. Many more hours were spent puttering around my vegetable garden, a water garden and a flower garden. 

My California Giant Zinnias

I am saying goodbye because I am moving to Brooklyn into what I can only assume will be a small apartment.  This move is for the happiest of reasons and we are thrilled to be making this transition. That said, I will be leaving some wonderful outdoor spaces that have fed my soul and informed much of my artwork and animation for the last 12 years.

1. Savor Every Moment Together

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

There's a Spider Running Up My Leg!

Observing Nature...Up Close and Personal

I am very fond of watching the natural world around me. As a general rule, this involves trying to find "them". I do not always welcome what happened Saturday morning. Walking to my car, I ran face-first into a spider web. Not one of my favorite activities but it does happen. I have managed to convince myself that spiders are very clever and jump off onto something other than me when I crash into a web.

Holding that thought I went on my way. However, as I was riding in the car (as a passenger) I saw a spider running up my leg. By instinct I brushed it off, but it was still in the car. When we arrived at our location I saw it again and was able to brush it outside. I suspect to our mutual relief. I did notice it had an unusual pattern but was off on my errand and didn't look carefully. Of course when I got back to the car, it was long gone. In a quirk of fate, that afternoon as I was working in the yard, I saw another spider exactly like the one in the car. Eureka, it did have a very unique pattern, one I knew would make it easy to identify. A search for a spider with a yellow triangle on it's abdomen brought instant results. 

Photo Credit: James Pryor
Arrowhead spider, or Verrucosa arenata is species of orb-weaver spider (family Araneidae). It is widely distributed in the Western Hemisphere.  Arrowhead spiders create a new web every day, removing the old one after sunrise. A word to the wise as I traverse that path to my car in the future. Isn't it beautiful!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Free Resources for Teachers and Parents: NAAEE

I don't remember how I found the North American Association for Environmental Education website.  However, I realized immediately that it was a fabulous resource. 
Image from the NAAEE website
NAAEE has members in more than 30 countries with more than 16,000 members. Members are professionals with a focus on environmental education across business, government, higher education, formal (K–12) education, non-formal education, early childhood education, science education and STEM, and other sectors of society.

I am pleased that Anim8Nature's workshops and animated documentaries are now listed in NAAEE's collection of resources. We want as many environmental educators, classroom teachers and parents to take advantage of our animated documentaries as possible. They are accessible in any language.

We are working on making our workshop resource available via the web as well. Currently we are based in the Mid-Atlantic of the USA. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Kids Observe and Anim8Nature

Anim8Nature Workshop at Claytor Nature Study Center

Milkweed at Claytor
Last week I had the great pleasure of working with students during a summer camp session at Claytor Nature Center of the University of Lynchburg, located in Bedford, Virginia. It was a fabulous opportunity to combine direct experience in nature with an exploration of natural phenomena using art and animation.

Getting Acquainted

I met with the students in a classroom at Claytor to introduce myself and give them an overview of our process. I talk a little bit about my work and learn their names, ages and where they go to school or if they are home schooled. 

We started with an introduction to the concept of exploring nature with art. I showed them this animation I had recently completed. Kids love cicadas and were instantly engaged with the idea of animation as a way of looking at natural phenomena.

Anim8Nature Life Cycle: 17-Year Cicada

Friday, June 15, 2018

Read This: 5 Easy Ways to Learn More about Life on Earth

If you're like me, your continuing education is very important. The past few months I have been delightfully entertained and educated by a series of books I’d like to recommend. I listened to all of these as audio books. My public library offers a service, Hoopla, that makes audio books free and easily accessible. Hope you have as easy access as I did.

Andra Wulf
I had heard of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), probably during my years living in California, where a county and a college, among other locations are named for Humboldt.  Considering the significance of his work and his reputation during his lifetime, it is shocking how few people know about him today. (There is an explanation for that in the book.) 

Monday, May 7, 2018

The New Storytelling: 101

The Old Storytelling

Lots of talk about storytelling these days. Of course humans have been telling stories as long as we have existed, it's part of our DNA. What I am finding fascinating is how my long career as a producer of preschool media prepares me for the current brand storytelling we are hearing so much about and our work at Anim8Nature.

Kristin Reiber Harris

Saturday, April 21, 2018

How Students Make Science Come Alive

Animating Science Workshops

I recently taught Animating Science for kids 8 to 14 at the Academy Center of the Arts in Lynchburg, VA. I am offering these kinds of workshops at the McLean Project for the Arts, the Bower Center and other venues. As I am doing more research about best practices in science education, I am finding evidence supporting my use of both phenomena based learning and animation. 

What is Phenomena-Based Learning?

Educators are using observable events in nature to explain or predict core concepts in science. Their curiosity sparked, students work to understand the phenomena in their own words/way.  This is done by presenting the events for the students to experience and then discussing, questioning and pondering.

This makes sense to me. When something peaks my curiosity, I start asking questions.  
I want to understand what I am seeing. This is what scientists do. In Anim8Nature workshops, students have the opportunity to then animate a science phenomena. How is this a powerful educational tool?

4 Ways to Say Goodbye

I am saying goodbye to Central Virginia after living here for over 12 years. My home in Lynchburg is on 3 acres (much of it trees) that bord...