Creating Scientific Drawings

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Students will learn different ways to make their scientific drawings accurate and detailed. They will learn the requirements and expectations for scientific drawing.

Big Idea

Scientific drawing is important and a specific skill.

RAP - Review and Preview

2 minutes

I call students to the gathering area and tell them, drawing is a very important part of scientific discovery. It is a way for scientists to share information that they cannot easily communicate in words.

You don’t have to be an artist to be able to create drawings of the things you see in your science discovery. You just need to be very observant and willing to take the time to record your observations in a detailed manner. Scientific drawings can add detail to what you learn and can help you see more detail and remember the information better.

There are some specific things that we talked about in the previous lesson when we looked at the human leg skeleton poster. We talked about the title, labels, attention to detail, perspective, and accuracy.

Today, we are going to look at a bad example of a scientific drawing and practice some drawings too.

Words of Wisdom

10 minutes

I tell students that, I am going to give you a few tips and some time to practice, so that hopefully, you will not find it intimidating when I ask you to draw a diagram for your science notebook. Sometimes, students who don’t see themselves as artists find that this type of drawing is something they are very good at, especially if they are detail-oriented.

I tell them that, drawing in science in not about creating a work of art. There is no interpretation of what you are seeing. Your objective is to create a visual representation of an item you are observing. This must be meaningful to you and people you share this with, who may not actually have the chance to see the object.

I tell students that drawings are also used in mathematics and social sciences. These skills will be useful to them across all disciplines and even in their artistic skills as they attend to detail and precision.

There are several different types of drawing that you can do in science. I share the powerpoint on the different forms of scientific illustrations they might see.

  1. sketching: This is a form of note-taking. It is a rough sketch of something you don’t want to forget. It is not necessarily accurate to scale, but helps remind you of something in particular.
  2. Scientific illustration: This is a finished work of art that is scientifically accurate and detailed. The object, organism, or habitat is shown in realistic shape, texture, arrangement, color (if necessary). It has a legend to explain what is illustrated. It is labeled and important aspects are described. Magnification is noted if necessary.
  3. Drawing: this is a range of rough to detailed illustrations. Sometimes, artists make several rough sketches before beginning the final drawing. Scientists often use techniques from artists to add detail to their scientific drawings.

Today, we will experiment with different lines and shading we can do with out pencil and then practice a scientific drawing.


Guided Practice

45 minutes

I hand every student a new, sharpened pencil. I hand them a soft eraser so that we don’t get ripped paper and eraser marks across their drawings.

I hand them the scientific drawing techniques handout and we go through the different ways to use your pencil. In addition. I have them draw a line with the tip of their pencil and the side of their pencil to show the difference in width of line they can make.

I show students the Scientific Drawing Handout. I show them the sloppy drawing of an onion. Using the rubric/guidelines for scientific drawings on the powerpoint, we discuss what needs to be added or changed and I have students make those changes.

I show students a chicken leg bone. I ask them to draw the chicken leg as accurately as possible.  I suggest to them that they can move the bone, they can find the most descriptive side to draw.  I tell them to look at it from different distances. Sometimes getting close to an object is better, sometimes, you miss important details if you go too close.

I remind students that they should be thinking about labels they might be able to put on the drawing. They should also think about notes that may need to be added to inform the viewer about the leg bone.

I tell them, always think about how your drawing is helping you learn about something.

Wrapping It Up

5 minutes

I ask students to gather at our meeting place and we talk about the bad example. We share the different ways we corrected the onion drawing and how it helped with the chicken leg drawing.

I tell students that they will draw a human leg tomorrow with all the bones and that we will be drawing skeletons of different creatures in the next few lessons. We will also draw soft structure elements as well.