Saturday, August 5, 2017

Animating Science

I am producing Anim8Nature, built around animated life cycles to get kids outside and inspire environmental stewardship. I am finding this marriage of art and science has a long history, think Leonardo DaVinci, and many modern proponents.

Leonardo da Vinci A page showing Leonardo's study of a foetus in the womb (c. 1510) Royal Library, Windsor Castle
One fabulous resource I found celebrating the art/science connection is the SciArtCenter. Established to facilitate collaboration between artists and scientists, they publish a magazine. As a new member, the August issue was the first I really perused. Oh, my what I found.

Anna Lindemann, Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Design at the University of Connecticut wrote an article Animating Science: Digital Arts in STEAM Education. 
In explaining her philosophy in creating the course she wanted three areas of exploration. The focus was on Communicating Science, Science Poetic and Animating a Natural History Collection.

Communicating Science is pretty self-explanatory, delightful example below by Henry Stein.

Science Poetic is a bit more nuanced but at the heart of what drives me in my mission to mix art and science in the media I create for kids. This is using scientific data/research with imagination and see what happens. This is what I am doing with my animated life cycles. They are based on science fact, but my interpretation of the organism and its environment.

Anim8Nature; jelly fish
My science advisor, Dr. John Styrsky, reviews the artwork and animation to confirm that what I am doing is not misleading or inaccurate. That may seem like a pretty low bar, but it is not intended to be photographically realistic. There is lots of video footage for that purpose. This work is designed to show how science fact and artistic interpretation can inspire curiosity.

The third component to Anna Lindemann's course is Animating a Natural History Collection. The University of Connecticut houses the Army Ant Guest Collection, affectionately known as AntU, an effort by the University to preserve and curate the Carl W. and Marian E. Rettenmeyer Army Ant Guest Collection. The Rettenmeyers world-class collection of over 2 million army ants and the creatures that live with them is the result of 50 years of work. Lindemann's students created animations  and the game concept below based on this resource.

Kudos to the SciArtCenter for such an informative resource. I am most appreciative.

Learn more about my work at and follow @Anim8Nature.

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