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Nature Inspires Art for Biology Students

Biology students looked at and were inspired by the artistic illustrations of 19th-century scientist Ernst Haeckel. His gorgeous drawings in the book Art Forms in Nature showed the beauty of microscopic marine life. Students researched ocean zooplankton and phytoplankton and created embroidery in the style of Haeckel.  “This was such a perfect project for the sophomores to do the week after the Science Fair,” says Biology teacher Sharon Kreamer. “I am grateful to Lucy Nelson for putting this project together, guiding the students, and working with me to adapt it for the Biology classes.”

Plankton are the essential, but often overlooked, base of food webs in marine and freshwater ecosystems. They can be defined as small, often microscopic organisms that are unable to swim against a current. Plankton are a very diverse group of organisms including algae, diatoms, protozoans, and the eggs and larval stages of crustaceans and other larger animals. Along with creating their embroidery, students researched the role of their chosen plankton in its ecosystem as well as the organism’s key characteristics. 

Students either copied a template or created an original drawing for their design and included a minimum of four different stitches. Working on 6'' hoops with needles and floss, students learned the patience and attention to detail necessary to create the painstaking designs that traditionally adorned fabrics such as dresses, men's waistcoats, and household linens. Final projects were due right after March break. “They are really fabulous!” remarked Mrs. Kreamer after receiving images of all her students’ work. 

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