The brown fish owl with its scholarly gaze seems real enough to touch as it rises off the front cover of a booklet created by La Sierra University students.
The 3-dimensional image and the illustrated booklet, “Explorer’s Guide to Birds!” as well as a second book with 3-D elements, “Explorer’s Guide to Minerals!” were designed for the educational benefit of local elementary school children who visit La Sierra’s World Museum of Natural History. This summer La Sierra students completed a third book that depicts the animals displayed in the museum, a collection that includes primates, carnivores, and species of Asian animals.
The booklets are the product of a partnership between a communication class and an art class at La Sierra that have service-learning components requiring students to work with community organizations. The communication class called “Edutainment,” taught by professor Mary Wilson, has worked with second graders from nearby Lincoln Alternative Elementary School for several years. Their interactions always culminate in a tour of La Sierra’s natural history museum.
Two years ago, the communication class created an interactive handout about the museum animals for the elementary students to use during their tour. This year the project broadened, through a partnership with a Senior Seminar in Art class taught by art professor and service-learning director Susan Patt, to include the booklets project.
“Students of both classes got together and brain-stormed content, format, structure, and design, realizing there was no budget,” said Patt. “Fortunately, I learned of some ‘Innovation in Teaching’ funds from a National Science Foundation grant that were being made available and I wrote a proposal. We were awarded a grant of $3,000 to produce two booklets and purchase 3-D glasses, and the excitement began.”
The booklets contain pages of photos with descriptions of birds and minerals and fun facts about each. For instance, halite, or sodium chloride, is described as rock salt used for de-icing roads during winter. The pages contain additional 3-D photos, mazes and other games, and a Cool Scientific Experiment kids can try at home.
Art major Lauren Prado, who graduated June 15 with a bachelor of fine arts degree, was among a key group of art students who burned the midnight oil illustrating and designing the booklets in time for the museum event.
“What made this project worthwhile was the day the elementary students showed up to the museum,” Prado said. “The way the children ran around the space with the booklets in hand made me understand why this was an important project to be a part of.”