Sketchnote your Science!

As a scientist, artist and graphic recorder I use my skills and experience to provide Creative Education for kids, students, teachers and educators. I literally ‘draw upon’ my research, professional experiences and the Australian Curriculum to create visual stories and STEM-related learning activities — where I enthusiastically put the “A” into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTs and Mathematics)! This year I introduced a new visual learning technique into my school visits, “Sketchnote your Science“, which I deliver as my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish.

I use Sketchnote your Science in Schools to help students and teachers to visualise SCIENCE. 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 and science visual. Because…“When you draw you remember more!” AND what a great reaction I have had from high school science students and teachers! The photos show how you can put fun into science and learning with just a pen and paper!

Here is some great feedback received from one of the teachers I visited, “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”. Teachers in Western Australia have now started using this technique after my school visits with amazing student science sketchnote results, which you can see via the link below!

The beauty of this visual learning technique is that it can also be used in any group/team situation to help visualise ideas and understanding. Let me know if I can help your classroom, school or group to “picture your ideas“. You can ‘sea’ more of my visual learning technique for schools and groups via Sketchnote your Science and follow my creative journey via @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Drawn to Conserve our Ocean

I’m delighted to be able to show you the latest infographic I created for CSIRO which now appears in the new book by Elsevier, Conservation for the Anthropocene Ocean. Conservation for the Anthropocene Ocean: Interdisciplinary Science in Support of Nature and People emphasises strategies to better connect the practice of marine conservation with the needs and priorities of a growing global human population. I created this infographic to help illustrate Chapter 20 ‘The Future of Modeling to Support Conservation Decisions in the Anthropocene Ocean’. Anthropocene relates to the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

As you know the health and future of our oceans is close to my heART so I was thrilled when I was asked to ‘draw out’ a chapter focusing on conservation decisions for our oceans! It is so important that we work together using all the information, technology and know how we have so we can find better ways for people and nature to co-exist for our Blue Planets future. Thank you to Dr Eva Plaganyi-Lloyd, one of the co-authors of Chapter 20, for giving me this great opportunity to use the art of marine science to picture this important topic. And as I love to live my life in colour this infographic came to life using my favourite markers by Copic.

You can ‘sea’ more of my Infographics & Illustrations and follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Sea our Storytelling for Kids!

What an ocean commotion we made at our “Under the Sea” workshop for kids (of all ages) these school holidays! Mermaid Michelle (aka. Michelle Worthington International award-winning children’s author ) and my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish used the art of marine science storytelling to talk about plastic pollution in our oceans. Marine debris and litter is one of the challenges our oceans and sea creatures are facing as people ‘trash where they splash’! We talked about how long it takes for plastics to break down. Did you know it takes 10 – 1000 years for a plastic bag to decompose?!! So what can we do about it? The kids all knew how, by calling out “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (…and Refuse)!” To put our recycling to work we created some amazing looking jellyfish art by re-using plastic bags!

Mermaid Michelle then took the group through the process of creating your own picture book story using jellyfish as the main character. Michelle took us through the steps of writing stories with messages of hope. We even got to hear some of the stories from jellyfish flying through space, jellyfish singing too loud and jellyfish in search of their love hearts! There were some great ideas for some best-selling kids picture books in the room which made us laugh and cry! WOW!

Mermaid Michelle and I had a FIN-tastic day with the group and we can’t wait to dive in and make a splash with children of all ages next school holidays! A special thank you to our helpers from the Share your Story Tribe. You can find out more about our upcoming creative STEM workshops via my Workshops (September school holiday workshop details coming soon!) and at Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Best fishes and mermaid kisses from Mermaid Michelle and Dr Suzie Starfish!

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Picturing the Strategy for the Top End!

I am so lucky in my job to be able to draw out ideas in great places with passionate people and drawing in the Top End is always a great experience! I was recently part of an experienced team of consultants engaged by the Northern Territory Government to help facilitate (and picture) stakeholder discussions to develop the Territory’s first Coastal and Marine Management Strategy. The Strategy will ensure the health and viability of the Top End’s coast and seas, support their use by Territorians for recreational and cultural purposes, manage growing demand for natural resources and foster sustainable industry. The development of this Strategy is a work-in-progress and it was a great privilege for me to picture these initial and important discussions with stakeholders.

It is always a great feeling in my job to ‘sea’ how people react to and engage with my visuals and at this workshop I received the best feedback – that my visuals helped participants to ‘sea’ the journey they were on in developing this Strategy together. Visual storytelling is a powerful way of communicating and engaging with groups, stakeholders and clients so you can ALL ‘sea’ the big picture! A BIG thank you to Grahame Byron and Sue Sargent for inviting me to be part of this Exceptional Consulting Team! You can ‘sea’ more of my visual storytelling with Government groups, teams and organisations at my Graphic Recording.

You can also dive in and follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

My story of words & pictures!

I was so excited to be asked to present at the Children’s Author & Illustrator Seminar hosted by the very talented Michelle Worthington of Share your Story. This workshop was for aspiring author/illustrators of kids picture books and what a great day we had. I decided to live sketchnote my creative journey of becoming a published author/illustrator through visual storytelling using my words and pictures. My journey to where I am today has been an interesting one and I love that I am now using the art of marine science to publish my very own kids picture book, a dream come true! My advice to the aspiring author/illustrators at the workshop was to:

  • Always believe in yourself and your story
  • Ride the waves of rejection (…and just keep swimming)
  • Find your Tribe

I was honoured to be amongst some of our amazing writing/illustrating talent including Giuseppe Poli, Sandra Temple and Dimity Powell. So great to hear their stories and learn from these storytellers. The workshop attendees were full of energy and questions for our Q&A panel session which emphasised the need for all aspiring author/illustrators to put their stories into words and pictures on the page! The workshop ended with some of the brave attendees reading our their stories for feedback, which was a great way to end our special day together! A BIG thank you to my friend and mentor Michelle Worthington for providing this amazing opportunity to share my story. Anyone wanting to follow their heART to becoming an author/illustrator of kids picture books I highly recommend joining Michelle’s supportive #shareyourstory Tribe and signing up to her editing and mentoring program!

**AND don’t forget these school holidays to dive into our creative STEM storytelling workshop with Mermaid Michelle & Dr Suzie Starfish Under the Sea!

Everyone has a story, what’s yours? You can follow my creative journey and ocean storytelling as Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Sea-ing our Living Oceans!

I’m excited to share that over the next six months I will be visiting schools and holding workshops around Australia about Our Living Oceans as my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish. Using the art of marine science I will be bringing science stories of the sea indoors for kids of all ages! I use a range of interactive approaches to engage with students and kids as we all think and learn differently. So I use a combination of visual storytelling, multi-media and hands-on Sci-Art activities, like the always popular “Shark Art”! I also hold ‘Sketchnote your science’ in schools for students and teachers to help make learning and science visual, as “when you draw you remember more“!! I also hold workshops for teachers to learn the ‘art’ of sketchnoting your science as part of their Professional Development.

As you can ‘sea’ from the photos using the art of education makes learning (and teaching) fun, interactive and memorable! I also have a new ‘Reef’ dress for when I’m working with kids which has been a BIG hit! Thanks to my very talented (and patient) mum for helping me create this special dress of wearable Sea Sci-Art! I must remember to wear my matching Dory fascinator next visit though, as the kids always ask where Dory is!

You can find out more about my school incursions and sketchnote workshops via my Creative Education. You can also now BOOK into my next workshop with the very talented international award winning author Michelle Worthington, aka. Mermaid Michelle, for an exciting and creative STEM workshop Under the Sea! The workshop will be held in the June/July school holidays in Brisbane and bookings are essential. You can ‘sea’ more details at Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/dr-suzie-starfish-and-mermaid-michelle-creative-writing-stem-class-for-kids-tickets-33139105958

You can dive in with me and follow my creative marine adventures as Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Living my life with ESTEAM!

What a great time I had in my recent interview with the lovely Leah Cannon from the Life Science Network about How I Got My Job! Leah is part of the amazing Life Science Network which is a forum for life science executives, scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and media professionals to come together for easy communication, to make new connections and find new ways to collaborate. I was so excited to be asked about my career as my journey has been a diverse one from crawling through the muddy waters of Moreton Bay in my PhD research, to working in many different and interesting roles in the Queensland Government (including everything from hostile stakeholder meetings, product testing of prawns and pearls to TV appearances and overseeing great teams and Statewide priorities) to now running my own business specialising in visual and creative communications.

As a marine ecologist, artist and writer my ‘job’ today is all about following my heART and no one day is ever the same, which I love! I now get to work with people, teams and organisations to help “Picture your ideas” as a graphic recorder. I combine my love of art and science to bring the nature of our Living Oceans into classrooms through my creative education and visual storytelling. And as I have always been drawn to the ocean I am now writing and illustrating a series of kids picture books about the wonders of our underwater world! It really is the #bestjobever!

I am doing all of this by living my life with ESTEAM (Entrepreneur, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) as I have turned something I love into something I live! I hope my story inspires others to follow their dreams and live their life in colour! A BIG thank you to the special people in my life, the mentors throughout my career and in my business today for always believing in me and encouraging me to follow my heART. You can read more about how I use the Art of STEM with kids, students and schools.

You can also dive in and follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Picturing rural teaching!

I have such fond memories of growing up in regional and remote Queensland where going to school meant dirt roads and waiting for emu’s to cross the road! So I was delighted when I was asked to be the graphic recorder for the TeachQLD Teach Rural Career Fair, hosted by the Queensland Department of Education and Training. This event was for current and future teachers looking for new adventures and teaching opportunities in regional, rural and remote Queensland. I drew out the two panel sessions where Queensland Principals shared tips for landing that job and early career Teachers in regional Queensland gave advice and tips on how to find your feet in a new community. What a great event to promote and highlight the amazing opportunities to teach in our rural, regional and remote communities. Quote of the day for me was “Give RURAL a GO!”.

You can see more of my Graphic Recording with groups, including Government Groups, and my time in the classroom as my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish (on Facebook) and follow my creative journey via @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Drawing out Superbug Solutions!

I had the great opportunity recently to be the Graphic Recorder for the Inaugural “Solutions for Drug-Resistant Infections” (SDRI) Conference held in Brisbane. I was there to draw out the Panel discussions and priorities to guide research efforts towards global solutions for drug-resistance research. Conference attendees voted on the top three research priorities which you can see pictured in the visuals! To see the highlights of this multi-disciplinary scientific conference for the Asia-Pacific region take a look at the SDRI Storify.

I am being asked to work more and more in the health space as visualising complex issues can help people to see the big picture. Having me there to help draw out controversial and sensitive issues also shows groups and stakeholders that they are being listened to and that their stories are important. My role in any group discussion/forum is to listen for the key messages, draw out the synergies and differences and put people in the picture. Recently I have also pictured the stories of those with Lived Experience (suicide) and the impending challenges of Aged Care. You can see more of how I work with people to put Community & Health in the picture.

I help people to put their ideas, issues and information in the picture through visual storytelling and you can see more of my work @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram and via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish.

Some GREAT Barrier Reef news!!

I have some GREAT NEWS to share with you! My alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish will be writing, illustrating and publishing her first kids picture book about The Great Barrier Reef with Little Steps Publishing!! I am not usually lost for words, as I can literally talk underwater, but I’m super EXCITED about this new creative collaboration with Little Steps! This story would not have surfaced though if it was not for the encouragement and support of my writing mentor and friend, Michelle Worthington of Share your Story, and my marine biologist for life my hubby Dr Richo. Thank you for encouraging me to just DIVE IN and share MY story!

The story is best described through its title, however the title is under wraps at the moment as it is so GREAT! The story is about the impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, both human and natural, and what happens to it when we are not watching. The story is based on marine science and told through the eyes of a feisty female fish named Anthia. Although the storyline is not of happy times on the reef my story is full of hope and ocean optimism as I cannot imagine a world without coral reefs, can you? The manuscript is currently being edited and once the words are right the fun part of illustrating the story begins. You can ‘sea’ some of my preliminary artworks on my website and I will be posting regular updates there on creating the story of The Great Barrier Reef which you can also follow via the hashtag #haveGBRhope.

PS. The same week that I found out that my Great Barrier Reef story was going to be published I also received my first rejection letter from a publisher for another fishy tale I have written. To me that no just means no to that book right now, which is all part of the magical and challenging world of writing kids picture books!

You can also follow my creative marine journey @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Best fishes!

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.·´¯`·.¸.><((((º>    Dr Suzie Starfish