Nature Blueprints

Students observe a complex natural object, break it down into component parts, and create a labeled diagram that reveals its symmetry and structure. It can be overwhelming to draw complex subjects like pinecones or a tower of lupine flowers. Diagrams are tools for exploring and quickly describing structures in a way that is clear and easy to understand. Giving students a basic approach to diagramming is giving them a process they can fall back on when they encounter a complex subject. In the field, this is both a time-saving device and a way to achieve clarity and precision in drawings. Think of the blueprints that an architect makes to build a house. They are comprehensive and detailed, but there is no need to draw the details of every joint if they are repeated throughout the structure; the architect can just show it once. Exploded views show the parts of an object and how they connect, and detail insets highlight important features of a subject. Once your students have this formula for diagramming in their back pocket, they can focus on observation instead of drawing repeated shapes.
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