The Unknown Place

The Unknown Place: a Science Showcase and Art Exhibition at ISP

During the autumn of 2021, we shared the launch of the Grade 7 interdisciplinary unit,  Ecological Art and Artistic Scientists.

This week we share the culminating event and reflections of this wonderfully relevant and engaging learning adventure of our Grade 7 students: the “Unkown Place”, a Science Showcase and Art Exhibition at ISP. 

“In class, we learn that science is a method used to learn about the world around us, and art provides us with tools to record this world and express our thoughts, emotions and wonderings about it. During our journey into “The Unknown Place”, these two equally important, and very human achievements, have been combined.

Jaden, G7 Student

Interdisciplinary Team

Please listen to this interview with Mr. Hannam (science) and Mr. Dimitrov (art) as they share their hopes and reflections on this new integrated unit.

“At the start of this unit we were told by Mr Hannam and Mr Dimitrov that we must become an expert in an aspect of the natural world that is vital yet misunderstood, taken for granted, or even ignored.” 

Aviv, G7 Student

Investigating the “unseen” parts of our ecosystem that are absolutely critical to our survival yet we often take for granted was the context for this Grade 7 ecological inquiry. Nurturing their curiosity about the amazing national forest surrounding ISP, learners then let that curiosity drive in-depth scientific learning and creative inquiry into how best to communicate this scientific knowledge to the ISP community.

From the artist’s point of view, Mr. Dimitrov, MS Arts

  • We aimed to closely observe the complexity of ecosystems and as an artist convey an idea / concept through both our choice of medium and the content. 
  • We were inquiring into what art strategy  (e.g. scale, re-frame, juxtapose etc.) to use to convey that information. We explored the layers of expression, trying to deepen our abstract thinking while still staying curious about our area of focus.

From the scientist’s point of view, Mr. Hannam, Grade 7 & 8 science

  • We aimed to explore how models of ecosystems represent the complex relationships and types of interactions in a system.
  • We Investigated the cause and effect relationships and interactions necessary for the transfer of energy in an ecosystem.
  • Inquired into the relationships and interactions impacting the Dvoka Sarka ecosystem.

Powerful learning happens when passionate teachers coupled with curious students are able to share their learning with our wider community.

For those of you who were unable to see the exhibition at ISP, you can experience below a few highlights of students’ projects (check out the QR codes for more information):

“I have chosen this theme because I found out that moss is a very interesting organism. I looked at many photos of moss and what interested me the most was the moss capsules. Many of them reminded me of real-life things so I decided to print out the photos and draw what they remind me of. I used pencils and sharpies to make a black and white drawing and glued it to the colorful moss capsule. When you look at my art I would want you to see that moss is unique. Each one is different. And that when you look closely at it you will see different colors and shapes”
Elena, Grade 7
“My topic is fungi. I chose this topic because I didn’t know anything about fungi and I was very curious about it. For this piece, I used the technique of shaping plastic bottles. I didn’t know anything about this technique at the beginning of this unit. What surprised me very much was that I never knew how the bottle would shape under the heat. Every time it was different. When you look at this art piece I want you to see the beauty of the world of fungi you don’t notice, and I hope that next time you see fungi in the forest you will wonder about how they are so crucial to our life”
Lucie, Grade 7
“I chose to learn about lynx because I really like Lynx and so I was interested to learn more about them for the science project. I would want people to look at my painting and see the beauty of nature and especially the beauty of the lynx.”
Gabriel, Grade 7
I have chosen this theme because not many people are knowledgeable about nutrients in plants and how they are transferred through ecosystems. I looked at many resources about nutrients and amongst them, I found a lot of information on Britannica. I found fantastic photos of 3D representations and plant tissue. I felt the urge to recreate a 3D Carbon atom in my own way. I used hoola hoops, spray paint and different styrofoam balls to make a life-size 3D atom. When you look at my art I would want you to walk away with an awareness of the structure of a Carbon atom and that it is a crucial element in plant life.”
Luki, Grade 7
“I chose this topic because I found one in the forest and I thought it was interesting. I wanted to know about a different slug then I found out more about leopard slugs. I want other people to know that leopard slugs have a home just like us, except we destroy their home.”
Gabi, Grade 7
“I have chosen Mycelium because I wanted to dig deeper into the topic of how trees communicate. I find it fascinating since I never knew they did that, and how important it really was, so I wanted to share this knowledge with others as well. For my artwork, I used a variety of different materials, such as paper for the base with hot glue, paint and thread for the pattern. The pattern on the dress is a diagram of a forest with links between the trees. • When you look at my art I would want you to walk away with the knowledge that you can raise awareness with fashion.”
Greta, Grade 7
 “I have chosen PENICILLIN because penicillin is a very underrated substance. You have definitely heard of mold, right? Ew, I know. No one likes mold. But what if I told you that penicillin, an antibiotic used by patients every day since the 1930s, is found in mold? Penicillin in medicine has several forms, and the one I represented is the pill form. I shaped chicken wire to look like a pill, then I covered it with papier-mache. I then painted the outside with pill-like colors, and I spray painted the inside with black. For the penicillin that you can find inside of the pill, I used wire, lightbulbs, and some wood to make a base. The box was also spray-painted with black. To add a little bit of color there are LED lights under the penicillin. • When you look at my art I would want you to walk away knowing that medicine you may take can come from the most unusual places, such as mold. Here’s to learn more about penicillin” Angie, Grade 7
  • ISP Learning Principle: Learners’ curiosity drives what and how they learn.
  • IB Standards & Practices: Teachers use inquiry, action and reflection to develop natural curiosity in students.