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For her first time studying birds, Mariella Newell's group drew the Dunlin
For her first time studying birds, Mariella Newell's group drew the Dunlin
Barbara Wright, local artist, guest-teaches scientific illustration to elementary art classes in Ridgefield (Photo) - 03/02/15
Monday, March 2, 2015-Ridgefield, WA-Barbara Wright, a Ridgefield artist and representative for the Clark County Arts Commission, visited art classes at Union Ridge Elementary School to teach students the art of scientific illustration and to help kick off Youth Arts Month.

Alan Adams, Union Ridge's art teacher, met Wright at a meeting for Youth Arts Month and invited her to visit his classes. "My students have been studying John James Audubon, famous for accurately painting birds and other wildlife," said Adams. "With the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge located right next to us, having Barbara visit the class to talk about scientific illustration seemed like a perfect fit to bring the project to life."

Wright taught the students about the art of scientific illustration. "I've always had a love for both art and science," explained Wright. "After teaching mathematics at Bellevue College for several years, I discovered that the University of Washington offers a certification program in Natural Science Illustration." Wright received her certification and now creates scientific illustrations.

In order to accurately illustrate her subjects which include birds, spiders, frogs, and plants, Wright uses a combination of media including graphite, ink, and watercolor, sometimes all in a single piece, to bring her subject to life. Wright brought several examples of her work including drawings of a Bald Eagle, Canadian Geese, owls and other birds, all of which can be found on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

In addition to birds and other animals, Wright illustrates plants. "If I'm not creating a piece for a client, I will use 'artistic license' to place the plants the way I think they look the most beautiful," she explained to the class. Wright taught the students about a variety of different artistic techniques including artistic license which happens when an artist reimagines her subject to create a piece she envisions in her mind.

After her presentation, students asked questions about Wright's life including how she discovered her love for art; where she has traveled and lived; why she chooses the subjects she draws; and what attracted her to move to Ridgefield. "I moved to Ridgefield three years ago because of the Ridgefield refuge," Wright explained. "The refuge is a treasure trove of artistic subjects with its variety of wonderful wildlife."

Prior to Wright's visit, Adams split his classes into groups and had each group select a bird found in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge to use as their subject to draw. "We chose the Golden Eagle because we all like eagles and we particularly liked how it was named 'golden,'" said Nathaniel Wade, a fifth grader. "The hardest part was determining and drawing the position of our eagle's wings."

For some students, studying birds was a new topic for them. Mariella Newell's group selected the Dunlin. "I really enjoyed learning about birds for this project - I'd never learned about birds before," she said. "The hardest part is trying to draw the background in perspective."

Barbara Wright, science arts educator, visits an elementary school classroom to demonstrate her work
Barbara Wright, science arts educator, visits an elementary school classroom to demonstrate her work
Ridgefield School District will celebrate Youth Arts Month by partnering with the Ridgefield community (Photo) - 02/23/15
Ridgefield School District will celebrate Youth Arts Month through partnerships with Ridgefield businesses, organizations, and community members to offer opportunities for children to create and display art throughout the month of March, recognized nationally as Youth Arts Month.

"Participation in the fine and performing arts provides our students a creative outlet to express their emotions, thoughts, and skills," said Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent of Ridgefield School District. "Art experiences enhance critical-thinking skills and foster important values such as empathy and tolerance."

Art classes will take place at all four of Ridgefield's schools throughout the month both during the school day and after school. In addition, businesses and organizations throughout Ridgefield have teamed up with Ridgefield School District. "I would like to express my gratitude on behalf of Ridgefield School District to the Ridgefield community for partnering with the district to provide so many classes and events free-of-charge," said McCann. "Seeing the groundswell of support for Youth Arts Month is one of the many reasons that make Ridgefield such a great place to live and learn."

Some of the enriching events and classes that will be offered for Ridgefield's youth to create art include:

* Artistry Night at View Ridge Middle School
* Cell Phone Photography with Chris Biddleman
* Children's Authors Gala
* Craftapalooza
* Drumming Up a Story
* Introduction to Oil Painting Classes
* Jazz Band and Jazz Choir Concert
* Jazz Funk Dance Lessons
* Library LEGO Lovers
* Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: Anatomy of a Masterpiece
* Missoula Children's Theater presenting Hansel & Gretel
* Musical performance by Three Together
* Poetry Contest at the Ridgefield Community Library
* Preschool Paint
* Preschool Story Time
* RHS Band Concert Concluding Event
* Ridgefield Arts Experience
* Ridgefield Gaming Group
* Teen Tech
* Thursday Afternoon Story Time - Oh, Yes!

... and much, much more!

Youth Arts Month started in 1961 when the Council for Art Education and National Art Education Association named March as Youth Arts Month to recognize art education and the value of art to create a better quality of life for all people.

For more information about Ridgefield Youth Arts Month including details on events taking place throughout March, please visit www.RidgefieldYouthArts.com

A photograph after parametric equations are applied
A photograph after parametric equations are applied
Ridgefield High School students use Advanced Algebra to recreate photographs in the virtual world (Photo) - 02/09/15
Monday, February 9, 2015-Ridgefield, WA-Students in Jill Brouillard's Advanced Algebra classes at Ridgefield High School use parametric equations to mathematically recreate photographs using formulas as part of an in-class project.

Students choose whatever school-appropriate photograph they like and use algebraic equations to recreate the photograph in mathematical space. "Students use equations to 'draw' the photograph on the computer," explained Brouillard. "Instead of simply graphing a straight line like basic graphing equations, parametric equations enable students to create curved lines."

Students used a minimum of 20 individual parametric equations as part of the assignment to recreate their photographs, but some students ended up using 70 or more. "Students really like the project; I heard a student say, 'This is so exciting! I'm finally feeling the "math love" and I've never felt it before'," said Brouillard. "What's particularly fun about this project is how students can take equations they're familiar with like a parabola and then transform it into a picture they want to work with; the assignment offers practical hands-on experience with advanced math."

"I'd never thought of creating a picture with equations and thought it'd be too hard," said Autumn Bochart, a sophomore in the class. "Once I started experimenting and the picture began to take form, the project got really exciting." For Bochart, the hands-on aspect of the project enabled her to grasp the mathematical concepts. "Math isn't my favorite subject, but Ms. Brouillard is really fun and helpful; she makes the class fun."

In previous years, students used graphing calculators instead of Chromebooks to create their photographs which could complicate the project with some students accidentally losing their work while entering it into the calculator. This year, for the first time, students used Samsung Chromebooks and a free software application called Desmos. "I started assigning this project a few years ago with graphing calculators after I attended a regional math conference," said Brouillard. "The Desmos software is far more user-friendly than graphing calculators, and also offers students the ability to easily save and share their work."

Some students liked the project specifically because of its hands-on nature. "I like math and want to be an engineer for a living," said Shawn Chandra, a sophomore. "This project was really fun and I learned a lot from it; I've never worked with a graphing calculator, but the Desmos software made everything really easy." The Desmos software also allows students to share their graphs and work via email or sharing links over the cloud. Students used the software to turn in their assignments, making the project almost completely paperless. "The only paper used is a single sheet I hand out with the rubric which defines their grade," said Brouillard.

The Chromebooks also enabled students struggling with the concept of parametric equations to grasp the ideas by visualizing the work directly in front of them. "This year, I have an amazing group of Advanced Algebra students in my class; they're really embracing the project and getting into it," said Brouillard. "Even for students who may be struggling, this assignment helps a lot because of its practical nature and how it enables students to apply the mathematics directly in a visual way."