Students collaborate with noted illustrator on a 3D coral reef mural

Award-winning illustrator Robin Brickman will spend a full day at Pine Cobble School on Friday, February 22. She will work with every grade, Beginners through ninth grade, to construct a three-dimensional coral reef, a project that combines art and science. She comes to Pine Cobble thanks to a grant from the Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire.

The community mural is based on the book “One Night in the Coral Sea,” illustrated by Brickman and authored by Sneed Collard III. The book illuminates one of nature’s most amazing spectacles: mass spawning on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. In 1984, scientists discovered that 135 of the reef’s 340 coral species reproduce at the same time. After that discovery, researchers found other mass spawnings on coral reefs in other parts of the world. However, only on the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs in the Indo-Pacific region do such a large number of coral species spawn together. The book won the John Burroughs List of Nature Books for Young Readers, the NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, and the Charlotte Award.

“Pine Cobble School deeply values projects that are interdisciplinary, community-based, collaborative, and hands-on,” said Susannah Wells, Head of School. “We are thrilled to welcome Robin Brickman in a school-wide project that will combine all of these elements in way that engages all students at their own artistic and scientific abilities.”

Pine Cobble has many other examples of combining science and the arts. Last year, for example, sixth grade students served as judges in the Flame Challenge, a science writing project initiated by Alan Alda and the Center for Communicating Science in New York. Each year, Pine Cobble hosts a Science Day, during which every student from fourth grade up must present to the school. The school organizes a weekly nature drawing challenge and science and nature are frequently part of the school’s art curriculum.

Brickman is the latest in Pine Cobble’s Distinguished Lecture Series. The school has a proud history of bringing speakers to campus to engage with students and deepen their classroom lessons. The school has brought activists, artisans, art historians, politicians, Peace Corps volunteers, musicians, novelists, mathematicians and scientists. Among recent speakers are Jane Swift, former Acting Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; award-winning novelist William Lycheck; Elizabeth Titus Putnam, founding president of the Student Conservation Association and recipient of the second-highest citizen’s medal in the United States; Bilal Ansari, Muslim Chaplain and Associate Coordinator of Community Engagement at Williams College; and more.

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