"I believe that the magic of your art will draw children to the printed word... truly a gift to a reading teacher, too!"

                                                                                           Donna Hutton, Principal, Center School, Longmeadow, MA

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Exploring Art and Science through Nonfiction Illustration


Award-winning nonfiction children’s book illustrator Bob Marstall has combined his passion for painting, a deep interest in nature and years of experience as a K-12 classroom art teacher to create a multi-disciplinary, inquiry-based program that emphasizes observation as the foundation of SCIENCE and ART and teaches the key skills of organized observation as a gateway to both. The program follows National Science and National Art Standards, and is tailored to the given audience. Acquiring observation skills has strong implications for cross-curricular integration in writing, reading and other subject areas.


In a lively presentation, Bob uses many examples from his books to investigate and illuminate organized observation, which forms the basis of ALL structured scientific investigations, and includes an in-depth look into how the eye and the brain work together to make sense of what we see. With many stunning close-ups of seemingly dissimilar things – including ancient mosaic tiles, Pointillism, Chuck Close portraits and pixels – he demonstrates what Harvard's E.O. Wilson meant when he stated in "Consilience" (Knopf 1998) that the "common property of science and art is the transmission of information".

Length: 45-75 minutes, including Q&A.  Up to four per day.
Audience Size: Limited only by the size of the room or auditorium.

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ADDITIONAL PROGRAM: Antarctica Slide Show

In 2002, Bob was a recipient of a National Science Foundation Artists and Writers Program Grant to research Weddell seals in Antarctica for a nonfiction picture book. He subsequently spent five weeks in the austral spring of that year photographing and recording seals and seal scientists on the frozen McMurdo Sound, 750 miles from the South Pole, and is currently working on a nonfiction book for children about seal researchers in Antarctica.

Culling through almost 3000 images taken during the trip, he has created a dynamic slide show that focuses on several groups of seal scientists as they go about their daily research with both adult and newly-born seals (hunting and foraging behavior, population demographics, nutritional and oxygen requirements of deep diving, etc).

  Additionally, he shows what it's like to live and work in a canvas-and-wood temporary hut which sits atop six feet of constantly shifting ice floating on a thousand feet of water — all within a few miles of Mt. Erebus (the world's southernmost active volcano), where clouds of steam and smoke billow constantly from its snowcapped summit.

As part of his research, Bob also lived in a dormitory-on-stilts, in a “fish shack” on wooden runners in the middle of a Weddell Seal colony, and in a tent (at -10 F) next to a permanently-frozen fresh water lake at the foot of a glacier. He helicoptered over and around giant icebergs and glaciers to reach the Mars-like Dry Valleys, drove a snowmobile across many miles of open sea-ice to help find and "tag" seals, visited Ernest Shackleton's hut and toured a large Adelie Penguin colony.

Bob's images and commentary will bring alive for children and teachers the adventure of science as it is currently practiced by teams of dedicated men and women in one of the most remote, pristine, harsh, and beautiful environments on earth. The program will enhance and support any ongoing classroom unit on Antarctica or a related theme such as marine mammal research.

This 50-120-minute program (including Q&A) is suitable for Grade 3 to adult and is tailored to the specific audience. For younger children, a 30-40 minute version with an emphasis on penguins and baby seals is available.

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$1100 for a full day of up to 4 sessions, plus expenses.

Fee reduced for each additional day per trip, and/or for a referral to another school that leads to an additional day. Cost of transportation is waived for visits within one hundred miles of my western Massachusetts home. Charges for expenses on more distant and longer visits can be estimated and negotiated in advance.

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For additional information, please contact Bob directly.