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2010 Aquarius Mission - If Reefs could talk
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Aquarius 2010 Expedition Blog:
Oct. 20, 2010 - Reflections

By Jacqui Stanley
Educator/Author/Illustrator
Houston, Texas

View from among the submerged mangrove prop roots looking out to a seagrass meadow
"Look Up #5" - Acrylic on Canvas by Jacqui.
Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
I'm thinking about T.H. Huxley who was a great supporter of Darwin's theory of natural selection, (he was called Darwin's bulldog), and I'm thinking about how he related art, science and literature. The idea that we recall the beauty of nature through art and science is almost obvious, and it is through both that we acquire a greater insight into the mystery and wonder around us. I like this line of thought. Creativity is necessary in both art and science.

Friday, October 8th, 2010
I'm working with Dr. John Burke to choose creatures and organisms that best represent each genus that inhabits Conch Reef on which the Aquarius habitat rests. I like the idea of working from the sea floor: - created by halimeda - moving on to the fish; to predators; to corals, eventually creating nine art/science lessons in all. I am excited about working with Dr. John Burke, to have the science reinforced three ways: first, aurally, then visually, and finally kinesthetically! This is a powerful learning experience and is inclusive pedagogy.

View from among the submerged mangrove prop roots looking out to a seagrass meadow
"Ocean Joy" - Acrylic on Canvas by Jacqui.
At the same time, I discuss art elements: shape, line, colour, texture and contrast or counter shading. This is going to be a valuable piece for cross content learning! First, I need to know how the organism or creature lives and what makes it especially interesting. I am not a scientist! My lessons begin with halimeda and John patiently explains the role of this organism in the coral reef environment: it creates the sea floor. We start at the beginning! I create a small painting with the organism almost complete, which we will complete on camera. I like the idea of painting during the description of the organism. Painting can translate into other media such as crayon or pencil drawings. These segments will also lend themselves to collage really well. I am so excited and energized about these lessons. It is a terrific opportunity to show how the ocean can inspire us all.

Monday October 11th, 2010
We taped a few shows and they are received really well and students are sending in their art pieces! Hopefully over the next week, we will get more and more interpretations. I am blown away by the detail in the artwork. I thought that the short segments might not allow the students much time to zoom in on any detail, but it is apparent that they have!

View from among the submerged mangrove prop roots looking out to a seagrass meadow
"Glassy sweepers" - Acrylic on Canvas by Jacqui.
By describing the structure of the organism or creature and its interactions in the marine habitat, as I paint, students are really getting it! The Cleaning Station show is a perfect opportunity to discuss pattern and color contrast as I paint the Spanish hogfish cleaner fish and Dr. John discusses what the colors and the pattern signify to other fish on the reef. Similarly, we incorporate Group Foraging that aquanauts James and Jessica are studying. Students will learn about two more types of fish and their relationship: the yellow goatfish and bar jacks.

The lesson plans are complete and posted on the web. They will provide a great resource and back-up for the "What Is It?" segments.

Thursday, October 14th 2010
This is a holistic, hands on approach to perceiving and learning about marine life.

I am also creating a large painting that will best reflect my interpretation of the marine environment in which the Aquarius habitat rests. I want to show that there is not just one habitat type - that the Aquarius environment depends on other types of habitat for a healthy coral reef. I want the painting to show each of the nine creatures and organisms that we feature in the "What Is It?" segments.

A few days ago, I went snorkeling along the mangroves. I am still inspired by the marine life and energy found amongst the roots and the bird life found in the branches. I want my painting to start with the mangroves and then move out into the grasses, then to the top of the coral reef and finally to the deeper habitat where the Aquarius rests. It is all one ocean, but different. Each habitat is a part of the other. The painting is: "Protecting the Parts is Where it Starts"

I am really happy with the concept. I love my art studio. I have been given a small space in the Aquarius Reef Base workshop - I'm next to the circular saw! It is perfect. I am away from too many distractions, but I can ask the team members for advice.

My impressions of the Aquarius team members are: "generous spirits." It is my privilege to be part of this unique educational opportunity. I heard from my friends today, in Australia at Yarram Primary School and they have been watching "If Reefs Could Talk." Outstanding!

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