Sketchnote your Science

Sketchnotes in Schools

Sketchnotes are visual notes created from a mixture of hand-drawn words and pictures which can include visual elements of typography, shapes and lines. Drawing is thinking so this technique helps to make learning about science visual and engaging. I use sketchnotes to help students and teachers to visualise science, and I also use sketchnotes to help break-down complex scientific concepts to help make the complex simple and the simple compelling.

As sketchnotes use both sides of our brains and the majority of us are visual thinkers (65% of us) using sketchnotes also helps us to record, reflect upon and remember information, because “When you draw you remember more!”

AND there is NO DRAWING experience necessary to learn how to use and apply sketchnotes. If you can draw a line, then you can sketchnote! SEA more below.

The above is a FIN-tastic sketchnote by the very talented Rob Dimeo of my “Sketchnote your Science in Schools” talk which was part of the International Sketchnote Hangout (#29) I hosted Downunder!

An example of how I use visual thinking to record information is shown through the below time-lapse video which shows me graphically recording the 2018 Creativity Summit, hosted by Griffith University, which illustrates the power of visual thinking and how creative education in classrooms can help students to think in colour! Graphic recording is a form of visual thinking which takes sketchnotes to the next level of interpreting, synthesising and translating information in real-time to create a visual story, using done live in front of large audiences at events and workshops etc.

Science sketchnotes

My classroom visits to Sketchnote your Science (in School) are delivered by my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish. Classroom incursion content is aligned to the Australian Curriculum for Science (usually Biological Sciences), Visual Arts and Critical and Creative Thinking and the work plans of the school. This is a new and novel visual learning and communication technique which both students and teachers (Professional Development for Teachers) benefit from.
With learning any new technique, or in this case a visual language, it does take some time to learn the basics, build your visual toolkit and apply it to your school work and work plans. And in my experience Sketchnoting your Science provides students with the following outcomes and learnings:
  • a record of science class discussions
  • a visual representation of complex issues
  • a tool for retention of information
  • a point of reflection for later study
  • a creative way to take notes and remember scientific concepts

 Furthermore, Sketchnote your Science provides schools/teachers with new and novel ways to:

  • engage with the different learning styles of the students
  • provide additional communication/learning techniques for teachers
  • include ‘A’ in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTs, Mathematics)
  • offer a new visual learning tool for science in schools

And to ‘sea’ how biology and art make a great team check out the episode of Scope TV (Australian children’s science education program) I filmed with Scopes FUN-tastic host Lee Constable showing – when you draw you remember more! Watch the episode here at: and via the video below of me drawing out the art and science of our oceans, literally!

My Sketchnotes in Schools around Australia

Below are some examples of how I use my Sketchnote your Science (in Schools and University’s) with students, teachers and researchers from across Australia and their FEEDBACK!! Can’t wait for you to ‘sea’ what science we will be sketchnoting next!!

Exmouth District High School, Western Australia

I loved teaching the Year 8 and 9 Science students (and their amazing teacher Mr Bush!) at Exmouth DHS how to Sketchnote your Science using the life cycle of the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) as our in-class example we drew-out together!


Dr Starfish tailored a session for us on the tagging and life cycle of The Green Turtle using ‘Sketchnote’ a visual learning tool of drawing pictures, labels and links, to better retain and recall our scientific content”, Mr Bush, Teacher, Exmouth District High School, Western Australia

The sessions ran really well with many colourful, well laid out visual presentations on the Green Turtle. I hope to adapt this skill when studying ‘States of Matter’ or ‘Classification Systems’ and many more”, Science Teacher, Exmouth DHS, Western Australia

Tully High School, Far North Queensland

It was great visiting the Year 7 and Year 10 classes of Tully State High School in sunny and stunning Far North Queensland! We learnt the stages of sketchnoting your science and drew out the life cycle of a green turtle which is common in the tropical waters of Queensland. We then discussed the interactions between these protected species and humans and other potential threats using the life cycle sketchnote to help guide our discussions. So many smiles for sketchnoting!


Barker College, New South Wales

What a great time I had at Barker College during National Science Week teaching the Years 9, 10 and 11 Science and Visual Arts students how to Sketchnote your Science!



Schools using ‘Sketchnote your Science’!

I’m thrilled that teachers are starting to trial and use this visual learning technique in their own classrooms after my school visits! Here are some examples of the amazing work from Year 7 Science students in Western Australia who used sketchnotes to adapt eight pages of science text about the ‘Habitats and Adaptations of Living Things‘.

“I teach Year 7 and 8 Science in a Country District High School. I started experimenting with Sketchnotes firstly to target my students who were ‘visual learners’ or students who found remembering content quite difficult and those with weak literacy skill. I found it very beneficial for those students to retain the information as they now remember a picture or symbol and that links to the content. I have now started using it for chapters in text books, eg The Living Places sketchnotes you see were conducted over four lessons. Instead of reading a text and answering questions, we read each section and picked out important parts and linked pictures, symbols and the layout itself is also important. The final product is one piece that has all the content and is then easier for the kids to retain“, Science Teacher, Exmouth, Western Australia


I also offer in-house tailored workshops for groups or organisations wanting to learn more about visual learning and communications. This program of visual learning can also be used in any group learning situation (even in break out sessions at Conferences) and does not have to focus on science, but any topic, for any age group, in any office or conference location! My sketchnote workshops are tailored to your specific visual needs and interests and NO DRAWING experience is necessary. You can see more about my Visual Workshops and Contact me.

Making a comm-ocean!

I had a great time holding my first Science Communications workshop for reef scientists and postgraduates of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. My workshop focused on the art and science of marine storytelling so these inspiring reef scientists could share their reef science with a broad audience (ie. other than the scientist and academic peers). I also introduced the group to my world of visual storytelling and as you can ‘sea’ from the photos below some great sketchnotes were created to help synthesize, structure and share these important marine science stories. Visual storytelling and sketchnoting your marine science is engaging and FUN!!

It was so FIN-tastic showing the reef scientists of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies how to ‘sketchnote their marine science’ to help visualise their science communication.



Online: I was honoured to host an International Sketchnote Hangout (#29) online to talk to the global sketchnote community and educators about my experiences and journey to “Sketchnote your Science in Schools“, which you can see more at Sketchnote Hangouts.

Sketchnoting is also a great and fun way of engaging people in a social situation, like my “Drink and Draw” social meet-ups. I believe anyone can draw and if you draw you remember more!  You can find out more about my visual storytelling and visual learning approaches via my in-house Workshops‎.

for further information on how I can help you to visualise your ideas.

*Please note my images, content and graphics need to be attributed to me and remain unaltered unless written permission is given as all graphics, content and images are Copyright © 2023 Dr Sue Pillans