“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin
My workshop Deadly Moons has been presented on hundreds of occasions by myself to thousands of Irish school children. Its title has its roots in the expression ‘that’s deadly’ an Irish street speak way of saying something is ‘Amazing’. The bones of Deadly Moons are built from a range of robotic space images coupled with some of my lunar sketches. From time to time I update the presentation to include images from Cassini,(MRO) Mars Reconnaissance Obiter and of course New Horizons.
I realised early on in my outreach efforts that most children and in fact most adults were totally unaware that other moons existed. In general people are not able to recognise moon phases or point out any features on our moon. Considering our moon is in the sky for the entirety of all our lives,this is another issue that needs education . Deadly Moons was my way of addressing these gaps in the understanding of our solar system. Within the presentation there is ample scope to introduce moon terminology such as the terminator,the limb, impact craters et cetra. These terms are common to all moons, thereby extending the learning to encompass Mimas, Enceladus and other extraordinary moons.
For me there is nothing as good or as satisfying in education than to give up to date real time knowledge to my audiences. The outstanding images from Cassini, MRO, Rosetta and other robotic missions continue to inspire my creativity in designing workshops and producing paintings.
During Deadly Moons the participants use soft pastels and black paper because this combination lends wonderful colour, blending and texture to a drawing. And yes of course I take the time to explain that some of the images in the presentation are in false colour , some in true colour.
After I shared Deadly Moons with UNAWE (Universe Awareness for Young Children) this simple workshop took off and was presented by others in many countries at various events. These include an exhibition at the opening of International Year of Astronomy 2009 in the UNESCO building Paris. EU UNAWE event at Europe Kijkoagen in Brussels , science events in Poland , The Netherlands , Vietnam , Ghana in Africa ,Hofstra University New York, Vancouver Canada,and Reykjavik Iceland to mention just a few.
Whenever it was possible I exhibited children’s "Deadly Moon" drawings with astronomical drawings from some of the best contempory observers on the planet. During International Year of Astronomy 2009 I took great pleasure including the work of the late Sir Patrick Moore and the Third Earl of Rosse in an exhibition in the science gallery at Birr Castle . Hofstra University Long Island New York, Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork, Dunsink Observatory in Dublin, and Dublin City Libraries all hosted variations of the exhibition. Sometimes a library or a school would exhibit the newly created drawings so that the parents and other visitors could enjoy them. Occasionally this led to up to 700 drawings on exhibit in a school hall. Deadly Moons cross pollinates Art, Science and ICT. The workshop encourages dialogue, imagination and hands on learning.
In 2011 Deadly Moons was awarded the SPORE Prize (Science Prize for Online Resources in Education) the awarding body was the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A paper was published in conjunction with UNAWE in Science Magazine. Irish National Radio interviewed me about the achievement this again gave voice to the wonders and beauty of our solar systems moons.
Understanding inspiration is like catching and harnessing the wind, it may have to be blowing for a while before it has ability to return the original energy. Many people inspired me over the years, Jane Houston Jones JPL/ NASA, Guy Consolmagno (Director of the Vatican Observatory),Jan Visser (The Learning Development Institute/ UNESCO), John Flannery (Irish Astronomical Society), and others. In turn I have done the same for countless small faces and their teachers. Many schools use the workshop towards their Discover Primary Science Award, an accolade to encourage STEM in schools. This is bestowed by Science Foundation Ireland to schools who fulfil the criteria of the scheme.
Perhaps it is impossible to measure inspiration; if it takes hold it is only the future that will unfold the ongoing story. Ripples through time, ripples moving forward. Recently Deadly Moons is having a bit of a revival. Dunamaise Arts Centre in Portlaoise Ireland was the venue for a session with a small group of enthused children . Their work is featured in the slides show above along with some of my favourite Deadly Moons drawings and images over the years.
Two groups of Irish children talk about Deadly Moons after taking part at Draoicht Arts Centre Blanchardstown Dublin.