Photography + Science = Inspiration!


                                                             A focused pollinator….
                             …and the student photographer who documented the learning.

I love seeing moments of beauty in learning and on this day, my wonderful 2nd graders from Ms. Hipps and Ms. Fox’s classes provided it….and then some. One might wonder what it’s like  in a science class with 28 7 year-olds, and I’d tell you it’s usually great! However, today was even better than great…. it was inspirational! Today I provided them with newly granted iPads so they could document their learning process and they were able to capture the essence of why I love this content!


Students have just finished a three-lesson unit with The Anacostia Watershed Society in which they learned all about native grasslands. They held seeds, collected seeds and dispersed them, all while gaining a greater understanding of the impact DC area’s grasslands have on our environment.


Exploring seed dispersal with AWS and collecting native grass seeds for dispersal on a field trip.

         Students dispersed their collected seeds in our front gardens to help with storm water runoff.

Through their learning, question kept popping up… ” How do we GET seeds anyway?” Students knew that seeds make plants and plant makes seeds, but the exact science behind it was a bit foreign. Now that the Next Generation Science Standards have pollination right in 2nd grade, the transition from the great foundation Anacositia Watershed Society created was simple! What a day we had!


       A young photographer documents her team member cross pollinating with a bee-stick.

Combining the Wisconsin Fast Plants that the 1st grade are growing with bee knowledge from our 3rd grade partnership with DC Beekeepers, I developed a lesson that allowed students to physically take part in seed creation and document each step! After learning about the important reproductive parts of plants, they cross-pollinated our plants using real dried bees ( also thanks to Wisconsin Fast Plants).

 I photograph my class all of the time, however, I have never handed the lens to my students. Now, I’m not sure I’ll ever take it back!

This photographer fully captures the engaged intensity with which his classmate is ensuring pollen is transferred to the stigma.

The true reason I introduced the iPads today was because we will be using them on a biodiversity scavenger hunt next Wednesday and I wanted them to have practice, but what I found was that once in their hands, they could see aspects to this process, capture focus and learning, in a way that I often miss with my snapshots.

Please enjoy these images that my students captured today. I believe that through their “lens” we see the essence of STEM education: exploration, observation, engagement, focus, collaboration, questioning…. it’s all there!  ENJOY!

Until next time!
-Vanessa Ford
Twitter: @maurythinktank 

Posted in Specials Posts, Think Tank.