Resource Type
Completion Time
About 1 period
All Aged
Download and Share
Maggie Prevanas
Information on common phyto and zooplankton from Hawaii’s Near Shore (or equivalent)
Ernst Haeckle “Art in Nature” book and CD (ordered through
Paper for drawing microbes
Pastels and pencils
Power Point on Scientific Illustration (attached)
Projector for PowerPoint
Activity Guide for Power Point (attached to lesson)
Rubric to assess student scientific illustrations
Tools and Methods
Tools and Methods


Maggie Prevanas joined scientists in the Bering Sea where sampling to measure the productivity of the Bering Sea Ecosystem was conducted. Maggie learned about the role microscopic organisms, diatoms, play in algae blooms, carbon cycling, and global warming. Maggie developed a lesson using scientific illustration to introduce diatoms to her students.


In this lesson, students will gain a deeper understanding of how science is done by learning why scientists draw and its importance in recording scientific observations. They will practice the scientific skill of drawing what they see as well as learn about a scientist who drew detailed pictures of diatoms, Ernst Haeckle.

Students will

  1. gain a deeper understanding of how science is done

  2. use their observations to accurately draw and record phyto or zooplankton as seen under a microscope

  3. understand the difference between a drawing and a photograph

  4. create a piece of art by drawing a specific microorganism found in the near water environment around the island


  1. Use PowerPoint created from: Science and the Artist's Book, an online exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and the Washington Project for the Arts.

  2. Give student activity handout 1: Art through a Scientist's Eyes. Point out to students the importance of accuracy and drawing to scale in scientific illustration. Students should keep this in mind as they continue with and complete their own drawings/projects.

  3. Project the Power Point onto a screen, view and discuss each illustrator’s work with students. Identify similarities and differences between the works. Continue showing examples of Beatrix Potter’s work taken from the Ambleside Museum’s Beatrix Potter site.

    a. Have students compare the artwork in her children’s’ books to Potter’s scientific illustrations.

    b. Have students discuss the questions in the activity guide.

  4. Look at Ernst Haeckles’ work.

    a. Have students compare the pictures of microbes to the drawings of microbes.

    b. Have the students draw an organism from the Power Point in the style of Haeckle.

  5. Give students computer copies of microbes from Hawaii’s near shore. Allow some students to move to computer stations and look and draw 3 more Hawaii water microbes.

    a. Have students share one of the drawings with a peer and use a rubric to assess the work.

    b. Students make an entry in their journal reflecting on what they learned and what they still have questions about. Journal: Is drawing using ‘MS Paint’ art? Why or why not?



Maggie Prevanas


K-4 5-8 9-12 Content Standard C: Life Science: Content Standard E: Science and Technology: a. Characteristics of organisms b. Life cycles of organisms c. Organisms and environments c. Abilities to distinguish between natural objects and objects made by humans Content Standard C: Life Science: a. Structure and function in living systems e. Diversity and adaptations of organisms Content Standard C: Life Science: a. The cell

Standards Other

Hawaii State Performance Standard for Art Art Production Create drawings, paintings, prints, and sculpture as exploration of media and processes, records of observation, and developing self-expression. Art History: Knowing about artworks and their creators Talk and write about an artist and his or her artworks or a selected culture and its artifacts. (Haeckle, Potter) Hawaii State Performance Standards for Science Standard 1-The Scientific Process: Scientific Investigation Discover, invent, and investigate using the skills necessary to engage in the scientific process Standard 2-The Scientific Process: Nature of Science Understand that science, technology, and society are interrelated

Attachment Size
Download Lesson (PDF - 336.6 KB)336.64 KB 336.64 KB
Download Pre-Lesson (PPT - 2.3 MB)2.31 MB 2.31 MB