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?

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

6 Reasons Learning Animation Makes Kids Smarter

iPad Spring Break Camp at the McLean Project for the Arts

I had a wonderful time working with these students last week. It was exciting to see their dedication, focus and creativity. I have a great deal of respect for their intelligence and ability to move forward successfully as they maneuver their world. You will see some samples of their work below. 

I appreciate the opportunity to help them expand their skill set and get even smarter! Here are 6 of the many ways kids get smarter by learning animation:

1. Putting Things in Context: What Does To Animate Mean?

I always start my animation workshops by asking this question: What does to animate mean? This is tricky because I have one very precise definition I am fishing for and rarely get it immediately. This time I did...which was nice. To animate means to bring to life. 

I want to boil things down to the essence of what we are doing. Pull away the associations to computers, cartoons, anime, 3D, all the details. Not that they are not part of an expanded definition, but not the essence. I wanted to get down the the basics, as an animator this is a very thrilling concept. I can bring a line to life and well as a whole universe. I love what I do and it's important to me to share the creative possibilities.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Have You Thanked a Tree Today?


Reciprocity is an exchange with equal benefits for all parties. This is a concept that I am thinking about a lot more these days for a number of reasons but primarily because I'm listening to the book Breading Sweetgrass by biologist Robin Wall Kimmerer.


Learning about Trees and More:  Braiding Sweetgrass

Braiding Sweetgrass is a beautifully written thesis featuring her sensibilities as a woman, scientist and a Citizen of the Potawatomi Nation. It has been a delightful, informative experience with almost 4 hours of listening to go. She has a beautiful voice which makes the it even more enjoyable. I am quite sure no actor could imbue her work with the enthusiasm she feels or pronounce the Potawatomi language correctly.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Artist's Intuition Meets Science Fact

Falling Leaves

I love watching leaves falling. I created this short animation last Fall to celebrate this annual event. In the process, I researched why leaves fall. Something I had never really questioned just happened. Turns out, trees release their leaves because they are a liability during winter. Maybe everybody else knows this, I just had not wondered. I was too caught up in enjoying the show.

I believe my anecdotal experience indicates that focusing on even brief phenomena in the natural world can generate questions and substantive learning experiences. A new resource is providing evidence from science educators that this is true.


My stumbling onto the North American Association for Environmental Education website, via Twitter was a very fortuitous event. I am discovering a treasure trove of opportunities and resources for my project Anim8Nature, helping children connect to nature.

Monday, February 12, 2018

6 Lessons I Learned Searching for Grants

I am an animator/media producer and educator. I am developing Anim8Nature to promote environmental stewardship by exploring science with art and careful observation of the natural world. I have received a seed grant but I am seeking additional funding.  InMotion: Squirrel
Are you also running around looking for money and trying to find that golden stash of acorns? This is what I have learned as a newbie after almost two years researching and applying for grants.

Grant writing is universally acknowledged as being a pain in the neck.However, I am finding that it really can be "fun" and transformative. Here's why.

1. Foundations Need You as Much as You Need Them

Charitable organizations are tasked with giving away 5% of their net investment assets each year. That's good news for those of us looking for a small piece of that money. 

2. Lots of Help Out There: Databases and Webinars

There are many resources/databases online. Google searches have introduced me to the Foundation Center as well as FoundantGrantWatch and more. 

After over a year of taking advantage of the Foundation Center's online database, I finally made it to their offices in Washington, DC. When I queried them on the phone why onsite visits are preferable, I was informed it was their knowledgable staff. That is an understatement. I was so grateful for the assistance I got at the Foundation Center, at least 30 minutes of one-on-one when I first arrived and then answers to many questions during my visit. I am working to get my local library here in Lynchburg, VA to join their network.

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 b...