Norval Sketchbook project combines art and science

Upper Canada College Year 8 students took part in a unique art and science interdisciplinary project called Norval Sketchbook during Adventure Week at the Norval Outdoor School from April 29 to May 3.
“Their activities addressed sustainability, biodiversity and invasive species, which were the themes of our MYP interdisciplinary unit based on the United Nations Sustainable Goal #15, Life on Land,” says Upper School art department head David Holt.

“The Norval components supplemented the students’ work done in class at UCC, which included research, drawing and the historical study of natural history illustration.”

Upper School art teacher Vesna Krstich arranged for visiting artists Shannon Gerard and Brianna Toswill to work with Year 8 students last year at Norval in conjunction with the WE CALL art project and work done by UCC’s Amnesty International Club regarding the school's history with Indigenous peoples. It worked so well that the pair was invited back this year to collaborate with Norval teacher Liz Jankowski, students and UCC teachers on Norval Sketchbook.

Boys were exposed to many local and invasive species at Norval, including European Buckthorn, from which they made paper as part of the project. They also walked, smelled, drew, wrote, sang, observed, answered questions, burned things, cooked potions, used analog typewriters, crafted multiple alphabets and repurposed handmade buttons as microscope slides.

“They benefited from the intensive on-site interdisciplinary experience of applying both artistic and scientific methodologies to their study of nature,” says Holt of what the students learned from the experience.

Norval Sketchbook was supported through The Lind Art Fund.
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