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What do I need to get started? In order to participate in FeederWatch: Sketch you need access to a computer with an internet connection, a digital camera or phone with camera, paper, drawing utensils and a desire to observe and sketch birds. It helps to have a feeder at home, but there are many other places you can go to observe live birds such as parks, ponds, and nature centers.
Do my sketches all have to be in a sketchbook? No, sketches don’t have to be in a single sketchbook or journal, although they can be. If you are unsure where to do your sketches, experiment with different size notebooks vs. loose leaf paper, lined, grid or blank papers, sticky notes, even cocktail napkins! What is important is that you sketch with what you have, with what makes you comfortable, and that when you experiment with different types of paper you take into account their advantages and limitations. Some field scientists use a pocket notebook for sketches and jotting notes, then use the information recorded to make scientific illustration drawings in another larger notebook.
Can I use a digital system like an iPad? Sure. You may use any tools or format you feel comfortable with to sketch for this program. Feel free to experiment with a variety of formats until you find what works best for you.
How much time commitment is FeederWatch: Sketch going to take? Project FeederWatch: Sketch is an eight-week program comprised of four stages that each last two weeks. Each stage has its own set of activities that will be outlined when it begins. From the list of activities for each stage, select as many or as few as you’d like to do. As you look through the activities, be sure to do the ones that feel hardest or scariest to do. Ignore those where you feel indifference. We will share our drawings and talk about them online.
In terms of commitment, this is a free-choice learning environment so come as you are, stay as long as you'd like, and join us at any point during the program. There is no minimum time commitment required, although as with many things, you’ll get more out of it the more you put into it.
Can I start late? Skip activities? You can start anytime before December 31, 2012. The eight-week program is divided into four stages, each lasting two weeks. Since the stages of activities are intended to be sequential, it may be beneficial for participants who start late to go back and do some of the activities from earlier stages.
Pick all the activities that seem fun or challenging (you are free to ignore any that seem boring or not fruitful) and upload as many of your resulting sketches to the forum. If you find one or two activities from earlier stages to be particularly helpful or enjoyable, you should feel free to continue to practice and post sketches from these activities even after the stage has ended.
I’m from ____, can I still participate? Yes to anywhere in the United States and Canada; sadly no at this point in time to anyone outside the US and Canada..
Tips on getting good photos of sketches? Facilitator Beck has created a video showing you how to light your sketch using several household lamps and window lighting. If you have an iPhone and want to use the JotNot app, download it here.
How do I get my sketch online? Using a digital camera, smart phone or scanner, upload the photo of your sketch to your computer.
To upload a photo to the a forum message from your computer, choose “upload files” below the text field. Choose the file you wish to upload and click "open." You will see the file uploading below the text field. When your photo is successfully uploaded, you will see the filename listed as an attachment. Click "remove" if you decide to remove the photo.
All uploaded images should not exceed "large" web size (640 x 480 pixels). If you wish to post larger images, please include a link to your photos.
You may also choose “insert image” from the toolbar above the text field. Place your cursor where you would like the image to appear within your message, then enter the image URL into the box. Click “insert image.”
If you’ve hosted your sketch elsewhere, like on a photo sharing site like Flickr or Picasa, you can simply paste a direct link to the photo and it will appear in your message.
Please note, there is no easy way to submit photos directly to the forum from your smartphone.
Do I have to share my sketches?
PFW: Sketch is a free-choice learning environment and, in part, that means you get to decide what you do and what you share with others. However, we encourage you to share because we believe we'll all learn more if you do.
Does my sketch or drawing have to be from a live bird? While sketching from live birds can be difficult, it provides a unique opportunity and can be rewarding if practiced regularly. There are some activities where it is suggested you use live observation, however we know that is not always possible. If you cannot observe live birds in nature, consider drawing caged birds at the zoo, mounted birds at a science center or a natural history museum, videos of birds on youtube or the nature television programs, or photographs of birds in magazines, online or from your own photo collection. Whenever you use something other than live observation, make note of it on your sketch.
When should I pick up the field guide to help identify the bird I am looking at? Opinions differ on this one. Some experts suggest not looking at the field guide until you’ve finished drawing the bird. The fear is that it will influence your sketch to draw what the field guide shows the bird looks like (often an unnaturally lit and perfected version) instead of drawing the bird you see and what it looks like in that moment. Other experts suggest leafing through the field guide to familiarize yourself with the field marks associated with the types of birds you are likely to see at your feeder. Having some familiarity with what you are likely to see might allow you to pay attention to the most significant and distinguishing details of the bird. Just remember not to lose time looking in a book when the best source of information (the bird itself) is right in front of you.
What is the relationship between FeederWatch and FeederWatch: Sketch?
Project FeederWatch: Sketch is a companion activity to the 2012-13 FeederWatch season and is also part of a larger research project examining styles of facilitation (ways to support conversations) in online environments and whether those styles lead to outcomes like learning. Participating in the sketching activities and sharing on the forum will support our museums’ collaboration with Michigan State University’s Writing in Digital Environments Research Center about the nature of museum-led learning that can take place in online environments. Participating in Project FeederWatch will help real scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology collect real data that will inform their research on bird distribution and abundance.
Do I need to participate in FeederWatch in order to be eligible for FeederWatch: Sketch? We highly encourage you to participate in both projects -- count birds and submit your data to the official Project FeederWatch program for the whole season, as well as sketch along with us for the eight-week Project FeederWatch: Sketch program -- however participation in Project FeederWatch is not absolutely required in order to partake in PFW: Sketch.
What is the living annotated bibliography? We would like you to share your favorite books, articles, videos or sources related to Project FeederWatch: Sketch topics such as field sketching, scientific illustration, bird anatomy, etc. This section will be a living annotated bibliography co-created by PFW: Sketch facilitators and participants. After posting the source, don’t forget to annotate or explain why you are sharing and what you like about it.
Who are Beck, Elizabeth, Margaret and Julia?
Project FeederWatch: Sketch is supported by four science museum educators and novice bird sketchers: Beck, Elizabeth, Julia, and Margaret. Julia and Margaret are from the Science Museum of Minnesota; Beck and Elizabeth are from the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC. As facilitators, we have researched drawing birds and consulted with experts in natural observation and drawing to construct the PFW: Sketch program, but will also be learning alongside the rest of the participants as the program advances. We will actively join you in sketching activities each week, sharing our progress and discussing our experiences alongside yours on the PFW: Sketch forum. We’ll visit the forum regularly throughout the program (November 26, 2012 - January 20, 2013), and also periodically drop in on the forum after January 20th to continue monitoring your progress, sharing our own, and engaging in further conversations for the remainder of the 2012-13 FeederWatch season (which ends on April 5, 2013).