Video Transcript: Canberra Women of Science and Art, Family webinar


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Renee: Okay, welcome everybody to our first webinar for Canberra Women of Science and Art. My name is Renee and alongside Claire Harris from Innovate Communicate we have co-created this event to highlight amazing women in our own backyard who are doing things that are unexpected and following their passions. So this event is supported with funding from the ACT National Science Week Committee as well as the support of all of our partners that were on that welcome screen there. I would also like to say a big thank you to Jessica Reese and Rob Thomas for their help and expertise.

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This morning we will be chatting to Julia Landford, Megan Gilmour and Nicole Godwin. There incredible women doing inspiry thing, inspiring things at the intersection of Science and Art. As we begin, I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land that I stand on, the Nanganwal and Naganbri people as well as the many Lands and Nations you are joining us from today. We recognize First Nations Australians as our first Innovators Problem Solvers, Artists and Engineers. And I pay my respect to their Elders of yesterday, today and tomorrow. I also extend that respect to any Aboriginal or Torres, Strait islander peoples here with us today.

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So thank you for joining us virtually for National Science Week 2020. It’s definitely going to be a year that we don’t forget. We have had to make lots of adjustments this year and some of those adjustments have meant trusting technology and you know, for all of its great innovations as well as its quirks and faults. So, if we do have some tech issues today please bear with us. Claire is going to be working in the background, moderating and making sure that it all goes to plan.

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Now, our first speaker today is Julia Lanford. And I’m just going to get my screen up here and do a bit of an intro before we go to her. So Julia developed a love of nature growing up in Papua New Guinea and has devoted three decades to Environmental Education and Natural History Art. She has previously worked as a Public Servant in International Development and as a former Teacher. She started an organization called Wildlife and Botanical Arts 20 years ago which has now become a privately run Natural History Art School. Nature Art Lab is a natural progression of all of her passions and is a unique experience for the Canberra Community.

Julia received an award as the ACT Environmental Educator of the year in 2019 for her contribution to Environmental Education. We have some lovely photos here of some of the work that Nature Art Lab does. So we have some beautiful art here. And they also run workshops for the community. So, any ages, from children all the way up into adults, they can get involved and connect with nature through Nature Art Lab’s Workshops. So now I’m going to go over to Julia and she’s going to tell us a little bit more about Nature Art Lab and what they do.

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Julia: Good morning everybody and thank you so much for having Nature Art Lab involved in this lovely national science week event. Art have been important to me my whole life, and I’m just really passionate about giving people opportunities to engage through drawing, observation, looking, and understanding our nature around us better.

So, Nature Art Lab, started several years ago, we ran lots of programs, classes, courses, and workshops. We do, we take people around the world to biodiversity hotspots including Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, and Peru. Our goal is to give people an opportunity to get to know nature better and to learn more about what this, what they’re seeing around them. It might even be just in your own backyard.

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So today I’ve got with me a very special little Australian Stick Insect. This little stick insect called ‘Sticky’ comes from Northern New South Wales and Queensland. She’s known as the Giant Prickly Stick Insect and she has some incredible features. So if you have a look at this little Stick Insect, she has legs and a body that looks a little bit like leaves in a tree. So she’s using camouflage to protect herself. She also has the most amazing behavioral characteristics as well, she can sway like a leaf in on a branch to pretend that she’s a leaf on a tree but she loves eating eucalyptus leaves. And today, we’re going to do a little with sticky as our subject to learn a little bit more about how a stick insect is structured and what they look like.

I also just brought in some lovely natural history, of you know, if you’re walking along the beach and you see some of these amazing things on the beach. Taking a little nature journal or a pen and paper and having a go at drawing some of the amazing things that you can see on these subjects is something. It’s a way to remember your walks and to remember to learn more about nature and what’s happening around us.

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Here’s a lovely little sea urchin cast that I picked up the other day on a beach at the south coast. And looking at the patterns in nature and the shades, the colors, the incredible structures that these animals have is something that we can all do and we can all look at and learn about, this beautiful feather that I found on the ground as well. And there are so many interesting things about feathers, its different structures and different feathers that have different purposes for birds. Here’s another beautiful shell that we found on the beach as well. There’s a lot of science and mathematics in the structure of shells that we can all learn about, understand better through art, drawing, observation, curiosity and learning.

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So here’s our beautiful little stick insect. She is called a ‘Giant Prickly Stick Insect’ and she loves eating eucalyptus leaves. She comes from Northern New South Wales and Queensland. She’s happily here munching away on a eucalyptus leaf while we’re talking. But one of the interesting things you might notice about this stick insect is that she’s shaped like a leaf on our branch. Her legs are all shaped like leaves so she blends in very-very well in nature and she’s camouflaged herself. One of the things that you can see here is that she has really interesting shapes. Look at the shape of her head and the little antenna that she has there and her legs. Her body which she swings and that shape underneath her. And she has an amazing egg laying capacity. And this female stick insect has an egg that they’re ready to throw into the forest floor to create some new little stick in the bush.

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And here’s the one of the actual little eggs. If you can see that it’s very tiny but it has a very hard shell on the outside of it. So that ants like to eat the outside of these little eggs and then turn it into their mists. And the little stick insect hatches out and looks like an ant as it emerges. And then climbs up the tree and becomes part of the stick insect community in the forest. So let’s go and have a go at drawing a stick insect. And if you’ve got your pens and papers ready, we’ll have a little look at how to draw a stick insect today.

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So Renee we might have a look at the picture that you got for us today and just notice some of the things about the stick insect that are quite interesting. Notice the shape of her head; it’s almost like a diamond shape. And she’s got these amazing leaf-eating mandibles in front of her head, little eyes. And then you can see all insects have got three parts to their bodies. So the head, the thorax which is the middle section where the legs and the wings come from. And then the body, it’s a giant admin for processing leaves and eating leaves, as well as laying eggs. At the end of the body, there you can see her egg laying process. She’s got amazingly strong claws. And you can see those little hands on the branch; they’re holding on and making sure that when the wind blows she doesn’t get blown out of the tree so she’s very good at holding on. So let’s have a go doing a drawing of this little stick insect.

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What I would suggest, have a good look at your subject. And this is umm, looking at the shapes, the colors, the structure, the proportions of the insect and understanding where the head is, where the abdomen, and where the thorax are. And then look where the legs join onto your insect here in the middle section of her body. And then the one very interesting thing about stick insects that you’ll notice is that she has these little wing buds on the back of her body. She can’t fly, that shows these little wing buds as a female. The male stick insect has a very different body shape and he has long-long wings, flies around in the forest and finds the females to mate and create more little stick insects in a forest.

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So let’s have a go and let’s start to draw, we might start with the head. And Rene, I’ll have a little drawing here that I can show everybody as we’re going, So on my drawing, I’m starting with the shape of the head. And I’m going to draw in the thorax here. So she’s got her thorax coming off the body here and coming around here. Her body actually swings all the way around her. And she has a lot of spines on her body as well. Here’s her egg length process. And most of her body comes all the way around here and back connecting to her thorax again.

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Now all insects have six legs, so three sets of legs. And they’re all attached to this section of the thorax. So we’re going to draw her beautiful legs. And if you notice they’re actually made with the shapes of a leaf here, so they’re not just a straight leg. And then there’s a little connection here and then it comes back out again for another part of the leg. And then, the third part and then a little claws on the end. And so we can draw her other leg here as well, which is also looks a little bit like a leaf and it comes back around here with another segment

And the segment out here and her little claws on the end. She also has two little antennas that come out of her head like that and her lovely little eyes sitting there on the top of her head. So let’s draw her other legs now. So there’s one on the other side of her body, there and it comes back up here and hangs onto the top of this little branch here. And her other leg again here. So all insects have three sets of legs and they hang onto the trees with their little claws. And here’s her final set of legs. We’ll just draw this one coming up here and up onto the other brow. A little set of claws on the end and her last leg here.

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And I hope you’re able to draw along with me today so that you can draw a little stick insect as well. Now each of her body segments has little spiny sections and so we’re going to draw those in. They have about 10 segments on a stick insect and she has lots of spiny-spiny little sections everywhere all around her body that we can also draw in. So one of the wonderful things about nature journaling and drawing and setting in nature is having a closer look and understanding how the insect structures work. Asking questions about ‘why’, why are the insects’ legs like glue or why they have wings the way they do? And it’s a really great way to learn more about the natural world around us. So I would encourage everyone to have a go at nature journalling. One of the things you can do is having a little kit like this that you can take out into the field. In my kit I’ve got pens and pencils, all different kinds. I have an eraser and a pencil sharpener. I have a little fine glass looking a little bit more closely at things. And a ruler and a little set of watercolor paints.

And it’s a wonderful way to be out in nature and looking and learning about the things that way, things that we’re always thinking about. And learning a little bit more about our world around us. So I’m happy to answer any questions but that’s a little introduction to nature journaling and nature art lab and what we do.

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Renee: Thank you so much Julia. Do you mind just holding that image of the stick insect up nice and close to the camera so people can have like a zoomed in view of that.

Julia: of the drawing?

Renee: Yes, please.

Julia: Yes so here it is. This is the little drawing that i just did. It’s a sketch. It’s not finished yet, but you can see the shape of her head. Have six pairs of her six legs and her body with the spiky spines on it. And her egg laying process, just down here at the end where she lays from. So, yeah, that’s the little drawing of Sticky the stick insect who lives at our house. And we and she hatched out from one of these tiny little eggs about six months ago. And we’re very happy to be here to help with teaching Nature Education in Canberra.

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Renee: That’s fantastic! Thank you so much. And thank you for bringing sticky along as well. It’s lovely to have those guest appearances today. So our next speaker we’re going to go to is Megan Gilmour. So I’m going to pop my screen back up again and we can do an intro for Megan. Another picture of sticky there. And the final one, a nice close-up of their face. So maybe later on you can finish that drawing of sticky and try and remember what the face looked like and maybe you can even color it in with some of those lovely natural colors that we see on the images.

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So now we’ll get to Megan. So Megan is a social innovator who has worked on complex Social and Economic Development Operations across 24 countries. She’s a Leader in governance and systems, research and advocacy for students with serious illness in 2017. Megan created the Australian first national telepresence robot initiative to get sick kids back to school. She’s a Churchill fellow a media spokesperson and TEDX speaker. And was a finalist for the act Australian of the year award in 2018. In 2019 she won act Telstra business women’s award in social enterprise, made the Australian financial review list of 100 women of influence and won CWB Award for innovation. Now we’ve got a photo here of Megan and the robot and I’m going to throw to Megan now because I believe she has also brought the robot to have a guest appearance for us too.

Megan: Renee, thank you. It’s so great to be here. I’ll give you a little look at this robot, this Omni robot here. I’m just going to stand down so you can see the whole shape of the robot. So you can see here we’ve got the screen and moving down, this is the speaker component so where we get to hear people who are dialing in and then moving. Further down we can just see right there and that’s a robot on its dock. So the base and the wheels there are what enable the robot to navigate around a remote environment.

And so the great thing about these robots is that it helps us with social distancing but to remain connected. So I’d just like to take you through a little talk about art and science and science and art in terms of these robots.  And this is a little talk about the healing power of connection. And because humans we’re hardwired to connect. And we’re hardwired to connect because our survival depends upon it. We need each other. And in 2009 when I entered the journey that was to become my son’s two-year battle with illness. I never thought I’d be here today with you talking about robots. These robots have been life-changing for sick kids for whom we’ve we work and help. And they shine a really bright light.

On the education needs of kids who are ill. So did you know that around Australia, more than 60,000 children with serious illness are at home or in hospital missing school and some miss weeks but others miss months and even days and years. And they miss their learning, their friends, and their fun. Most of all, they miss their connection to their school community and belonging and being a part of that.

So we’re putting a robot in the classroom of these children to enable them to see there and be there and be seen and heard whenever they dial in. And they’re actually able to from their laptop or their tablet device at home, or in hospital. They’re actually able to move the robot around their classroom or their playground just like they’re at school. So they can join classes with their friends that could be Math’s or English but it could be also Science or Art classes, even music where they can join in.

And at missing school we’ve been working on solving the problem of loneliness and isolation for these students, these kids and their need to be in their school community. And we’re showing the way that difficult social problems can be tackled by combining the best elements of Art and Science. And  when I walked out of Sydney children’s hospital at the end of 2012 holding my son’s hand alongside my daughter and husband, I promised myself I wouldn’t turn my back on kids like Darcy my son, who most need their schools in their toughest times. But who knew that on the scrabble board of life that l-o-v-e-s loves can be rearranged to spell s-o-l-v-e solve. So I’d love you to remember that you can use your special insights and your talents and gifts to solve, you know, even small problems but also really big problems by combining science and art.

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Renee: Thanks, Megan. We’ll get to an activity in a minute but we have had a question come in from Aaliyah. She’s asked if the robot has a name?

Megan: I love that question, Aaliyah. This robot is Jobes. And what we’ve done is we name our robots after people who have really fought for inclusion and using technology to do that or even art indeed. But the actual manufacturer, the people who make this robot they’re called ‘Omni Labs’. And this robot is generally known as ‘Omni’ which of course means everywhere. But we always name them and so do kids in school.

I think that’s a really fascinating idea about these robots is we the science. The evidence says that people relate to them more because they have more human-like characteristics. So we call that anthropomorphic. And why they get named and even dressed up? People dress them up.

Renee: Awesome that’s amazing. So I’m going to share my screen again and we’ll start the activity. So what we want to do is ask this question of our participants. So what other problems could you see robots helping with? So, whether that’s now or in the future? We want you to type your answer in the chat.

So if you’d like to participate have a think about what you can see robots helping with. It could be something to do with Science. It could be something to do with Art. It could be both or something completely different. And while you’re having a think about that and typing your answers in the chat, I’m going to have a little bit of a discussion with Megan.

So Megan, I would love to know what other exciting things you have seen robots doing right now.

Okay, well, in these interesting times that we’re in, we have and I know you have some images that did you want to share some images? I’ll guess that now.

Megan: So there’s a funny robot that looks a bit like a dog, I guess and that one is being used to help people in in Singapore to be able to keep their social distancing things in place so not being close together there. It isn’t that cool? So dog legs and kind of body there if you flick to the next one Renee. So, this one is Starship Technologies that delivering food and making home deliveries. Not even just food but other things as well. So how neat is that just zooming around taking things to different neighborhoods and places?

If we move on to the next one and I’d like to just share the message here. How like, how different robots can actually look and how many features and functions that can come into play with them. So this one is helping to disinfect patients rooms in this pandemic and in hospitals, and other places. Next one along, Zora Bot is doing temperature testing, something that we’re looking at starting doing here in Canberra with an initiative. And also monitoring you know patients, use delivering medications. Zora Bot looks like it can do quite a few things.

So this last one, it’s actually the ‘Omni Bot’ that we’re, that i have behind me. But it was used in japan to help people who couldn’t be at their graduating ceremony at university. So you can see there, the students have dialed in on the robot and they’re holding their testimony and receiving their graduation rights through a robot.

Renee: Fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing those with us, Megan. So we’ve had lots of suggestions come through in the chat for that question that we posed to our participants. So I’m going to throw back to Claire now. Who will start reading out some of those awesome ideas?

Claire: Great there are some fantastic ideas here. So Christine says helping people at home with day-to-day tasks.  And Luca, Maddie and Rachel have said putting clothes away. That sounds fantastic. I think there are a lot of us that could make use of a robot in our houses. Nicole says working in ICU to minimize risks to nurses, that’s great one too. Another one, so Arlen has said helping people to do jobs in hospital and Aaliyah has said helping with disabilities. All great ideas. And Frankie says removing rubbish from the ocean. I think there might be some robots that are already out there doing that. That’s a fantastic idea. Niamhe says she thinks that robots could help with loneliness. What a great idea.

Jane says a robot could go to work for you in a different country and Christina says picking up rubbish from parks roads train stations, making things in factories is something that Jane has said. And yep, so many great ideas! So thank you so much for sharing everybody. We’ll get a full list of those when we publish our article online later.

Renee: Awesome! Thank you, Claire and thank you everyone for participating in that activity. Now, one of our partners ACT Libraries has this great program where you can actually borrow a robot making kit. So this is something that you can take home and try out for yourself. They have all of the different technology that I’m not really across. But I’m sure a lot of you have a better understanding of it than I do. And even if you don’t you can start tinkering and having a look at how robots work.

So we can see some of those little bots in that image there. And I’m sure there are many-many applications that you can do with that maker kit. Now, our final speaker today is Nicole Godwin.

So Nicole is an award-winning author who shines a light on animal rights and environmental issues. Her captivating picture books encourage young readers to consider the natural world they live in. Nicole is a regular presenter at schools offering, engaging, interactive and thought-provoking sessions.

In 2019 she won the ACT Writing and Publishing Award in the children’s category for her book called ‘Billy’. Also in 2019, two of Nicole’s manuscripts were recognized as highly commended in both the picture book and middle grade slash young adult categories for the CYA conference 2019 competition. In 2018 she was awarded a scholarship to attend the 2018 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Winter Conference. The scholarship was awarded to one author and one illustrator worldwide who are seen as being on the verge of a career breakthrough and who are contributing to their local society of children’s book writers and illustrator’s chapter.

Now I do have an image here of Nicole. You can see here that she is presenting this was at Carumbin School so that’s on the gold coast. And she does lots of these presentations in schools to get people or get children engaging with her books as well as engaging with the environmental issues that she highlights.

So we are going to go to Nicole now and Nicole’s going to do a little bit of a show-and-tell from some of those books that she’s created.

Thanks, Renee and hello everyone. It’s just absolutely great to be here. So as Renee said, yes, I do write books about the environment and the animals that we share our planet with. And my aim with my books, their picture books is not just to entertain children and families but also just get people thinking and looking at the world in a different way.

So what I thought I’d do is give you a quick overview of some of my books. First up, so first one here is ‘Ella’. And Ella is about an elephant that is taken from her mom and put to work entertaining tourists so she sets off on a grand escape. So she’s looking for her mom. It’s a bit sad in parts but a lot of happiness in the end. So when you’re writing a picture book there’s, it’s you’re really trying to engage you know readers and talk about characters. And with Ella there’s something that you might see here. She has a heart on her tail so when Ella is happy her tail heart floats high and when she’s sad it’s down low. So I found that, that really works for maybe really younger children who might not understand the whole story but they’re following Ella’s emotions throughout the book.

Another book here we’ve got is ‘Billie’. So Billie is the one that last year won the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards. And Billie is about a dolphin that sets out looking for the biggest wave. But in her search she ends up finding all sorts of other issues. From we’ve got dolphins in a dolphin park and we have ocean junk. So you can see there that Billie might be looking for the biggest wave but she’s finding a turtle here caught in a plastic bag and you can see all sorts of other junk, ocean junk there. And even one of the biggest issues that she encounters here, it’s a big drift net. So while she’s on a journey looking for the biggest wave, there are lots of issues that she does face.

And then we have my latest book ’Jelly Boy’. And Jelly Boy is about a jellyfish who here, who falls in love with a character who is actually a plastic bag.  So it is a love story but it shows what happens when there’s a lot of plastic in our oceans as well. So what I’m going to do now is I’ve got a few activities that we’re not going to do now. But I’d like to talk you through them so that you can do after this session. And I know that we’ve got lots of children and families with different age ranges. So I’ve got a couple of activities that will suit younger children and those that will suit older.

So, the first one that I’d like to share with you is about making a fully Compostable Jellyfish. It’s a craft activity. It will look a bit like this. So, this one is inspired by Jelly Boy, this book here.

Now, when I say fully compostable and sustainable, what I mean is that there is nothing in this craft activity, this jellyfish that is harmful for the environment. There is no plastic. And really what would happen is after you. It’s been hanging in your room for a while instead of throwing it in the bin, you could even put it in your compost in a few weeks or months. It would totally disappear. So let me show you how to make one of these jellyfish yourself.

So it’s quite simple you need half a paper plate, so just cut it in half. And you’ll see there are some holes in it already, so all I’ve done is got a hole punch here and I’ve punched some holes in the bottom and one in the top. Now, the next important bit is to get an old t-shirt. And it’s really important that this old t-shirt is cotton because if it’s cotton, it’s a natural material that can break down. And from those old t-shirts and you might need to get some help. I’ve actually made strips that are going to form tentacles and with those strips I’ve simply tied, I don’t know if you can see a knot in one end. Then I’ve got my paper plate. I’ve got my tentacle and I simply push it through my little hole here and then i pull it through and then I have a tentacle. So I finish that across the bottom and one at the top and that, then becomes your jellyfish.

But the important part now is to decorate it to make it your own so very much. This one has a smiley face and some dots but you could make patterns or really whatever you would like there. And the other important thing I think is to write a little message on the back, something that you might do to help the environment. And this one is “I won’t use soft plastic in my lunch box”. So that means things like glass, wraps, it might be not to use plastic bags because as you saw in Jelly Boy, it was about a plastic bag that looks very much like a jellyfish in the ocean. And one of the messages that i have a lot of facts in the back of my books is about soft plastic and about making sure that if we have to use it we try not to. But if we have to it goes we can reuse it or recycle it.

Now, maybe in the comments, tell me if you think that this can go in your recycling bin at home, can we recycle it at all? While I wait for that I’ll show you some of the other activities so one of the one of the other activities that I’m going to leave you with, to do afterwards are some writing activities.

Now, recalled some of these activities. Jump starts because what I’m trying to do is start your brain moving in a creative way.

So I’ll just go back so Christina: “I said no but you can recycle it in your local Coles or Woolies exactly so you cannot put plastic it’s called ‘soft plastic’ and the test is the scrunch test. If you can scratch it up like this then that means its soft plastic and you don’t put it in your yellow bin you put it in bins that are Coles and Woolies”.

So we’ve got some good comments here exactly. So a lot of you are all over it. So recycle at the supermarket and it’s not normal recycling so that’s exactly right. So thank you. Thank you all for your help.

So these writing activities that you can do a bit later are called ‘Jump Start’. So in the email that accompanied that you would have received I think today or if not you might receive it after. There’s actually a sheet that lists these jump start activities and what they are? They’re a way to warm up your brain. If you can’t think about what to write about or just to get you writing in a different way about different topics, so the first jump start that you can think about later. All you need is a pen and a paper and maybe a timer as well.

The first one is called ‘Where Are We’, three words, so you have three words and it’s what what’s you’re going to do is write a paragraph. So it might only be a few sentences but you have to include these three words in that paragraph and deliberately these three words have aren’t related, you know, whatsoever. So it can be a bit of fun and that’s the stories are usually interesting and engaging because the words don’t go together.

So for example the first one if you could write something for up to five minutes, the words are Unicorn, Venus and Skateboard. So you can see that those words don’t go together but you might be able to make a very fun story using them or maybe Broccoli, Wig, and Penguin. Once again they don’t go together but if you write a few sentences they might just turn into something that’s amazing. And the third one I’ve got here is toothbrush, skydiving and recycling. So have a go at that afterwards and see what you will come up with.

Now the idea isn’t to write a whole story but it might give you some ideas to keep writing later on to develop a whole story. The other jump start sort of jump into writing are really called ‘Leading Words’. So what I’ve given you on your sheet are some sentences to start your story with. And once again write for up to five minutes, it’s only a paragraph. After that you might have thought of a great character or just an idea that you’d like to write a bit more about and you might start with. So these are the words that I’ve given you ‘I was so embarrassed when’, and then you keep writing or ‘My nose was never the same after then ….”. Or ‘I don’t believe in monsters but ….”. So have a go at some of those and just see what comes out of them and it’s the whole act of writing. Don’t think too much, just write and see and see what comes out.

So I still use those types of exercises a lot myself. If I can’t think about what to write about but definitely in schools I’ve heard some brilliant ideas from students when we run these exercises. So they’re a lot of fun.

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So before we move to questions, the other thing I want to talk a bit more about is just the act of writing itself. So what I’d like to do is chat about some things that make a good story. So in the chat I’d like you to write some things. What makes a really good book and I’m talking about it could be any book I write, picture book, so what makes it good. Is there’s something that’s particularly interesting in a book? And we’ll see what you come up with.

So while you’re talking, while you’re about to chat and type things in. I’ll talk about one thing and that is with picture books how important the illustrations are. So it’s a team effort so very much. We work together and one of the things that we do and I’ll show you here is that the words, if the words and the pictures were really saying exactly the same thing, it wouldn’t be as interesting. And I showed you this picture before and that’s with all the ocean junk but you’ll notice that I’ll read the words out there a bit hard ‘Billie sees trash they toss and tease’. So what we’re doing is talking about the water and the waves but the illustrations are showing a different picture. So it’s really important that the words and the pictures work well together and sometimes tell a different story but that makes the whole book even more interesting.

So let me see what we’ve got here. So we’ve got WOW Words. Yes, so there’s different ways you can write. You have to choose how you’re going to write. And one of the things that I’ve used in this is ‘Billie is’. I’ve used something called alliteration and that means you use a lot of words that start with the same letter so on this page. Here I say the ‘waves wallop, they whip, they wail’. So I chose to use a lot of alliteration in this book. Whereas in Ella I chose to write an inverse in rhyme so there’s a lot of different words but it’s how I wrote.

And Christine, I wrote the narrative, the characters and the images absolutely. So characters in particular are so important. So you can see here we’ve created Ella here, but she also has a chicken friend as well. And in this book, obviously we have Billie but other friends that help Billie throughout the book. So having a character that children engage with and they want to succeed is a really important part of a book.

00:39:18,560 –> 00:43:10,480

So what else do we have?  Cliff hangers concepts.  Great! You guys are all over it. Good pictures, engaging story colors, emotions, magic. I like magic, excitement, quirky characters, morals and looking at the message, unexpected surprises. Rhyming, so they’re you are, all absolutely spot on. What I’d like to pick up with some of the things that you’ve just mentioned are problems. So it’s really important to have problems in a book. So for example in Billie, if on the first page we said Billie is off to find the biggest wave and then on the second page Billie has found the biggest wave it is a very boring book. It doesn’t entertain you it doesn’t take you on a journey. So what we do? I’ll use Billie as an example. That is there are problems and so usually in a book. You have a few problems and it can lead to a bigger problem.

So you’ve seen this page before. So one of the problems she encounters is ocean junk but then she encounters even whaling, so people actually trying to capture whales and then ocean pollution. So you can see that all of these problems make you want Billie to succeed and it connects with you as a reader. And the biggest problem is this huge drift net, where the problem is that Billie ends up getting caught, so that in the story. All of those problems lead to the biggest problem end up making it interesting. And then you make it, you resolve the whole issue. And I can see some other ideas here. An inviting blurb, so the blurb is the part on the back, so that’s what you call it on the back. So that means that people look we’ll, look at the cover and read the back and see if it’s actually interesting hooks. I can see you’re all, you all have great ideas and I can see you’re absolutely on the right track.

Now I only have a little bit of time left. So what I wanted to show you quickly was something that I do with all of my books working with the illustrators. So this illustrator is Demelsa Horton and for Jelly Boy, it was Christopher Nielsen. And what we do is we actually do a draw like a really rough copy and it is called a ‘Storyboard’. So we might have a picture if you can pop that up please Renee. And what a storyboard is? This is something that you can do at home. If you’re drafting stories is in very rough illustrations and text. We write the story out to see if it works and to see if it flows. So what this does? We can see have we got enough problems, it is exciting. Do we reach a big problem and then resolve it?

But the other thing, we use this storyboard for is also to see if we’ve got some variety in how each page looks. So some pages will go over two pages. So you’ve got one big picture and I’ll grab. Sorry I’ve lost my book here.

Renee: I’ll do it. I’ll show you the Billie one. Some like the one I showed you before. If you can see up there, it’s one big picture.

Nicole: Yeah, thank you.

Across the two pages and at other times, we choose to have like this one here, four pictures on one page. So that’s what the storyboard can help with as well. But the key thing and I’ve shown you the jump start as well, is to keep writing. You are thinking about all of these things, the problems, the characters in the plot and it’s just to keep writing. That’s what the one thing I would encourage you all to do. So thank you all.

00:43:10,480 –> 00:53:31,119

Renee: Thanks Nicole. Thank you so much to all of those activities that Nicole has spoken about. We have sent you in an email. So we’ve sent you the jump starts to help with your writing activities and we also sent out activity and resources kit which has the craft Jellyfish activity in there as well. So you can do that whenever webinar is over. We have had a question submitted to us before the webinar for you, Nicole that I’d love you to answer. So that was from Niamh, who is a 13 year old and she’s asked: “I love, I love creative writing and I am writing a novel. What is the best way to go about getting my first book published?”

Nicole: Well first up Niamh, I would like to just say how impressed I am that at your age already, you are writing a novel. So it is just wonderful and it makes me feel great that we have got children out there who are so involved and in love with writing. Now getting published can take a while and I think that most authors and illustrators would sort of attest to that. But the key is as I mentioned before, just to keep writing and keep writing different things. So write your novel but also branch out into other areas. It might be an article it, might be short stories as well. But one of the things I would really suggest is to start entering competitions if you’re not already. So there are competitions that are you know for different age groups and there are some I know for conferences. And different competitions that I’m involved with that specifically have sections for young people and there’s different age group.

So for example, there’s a conference that runs one of the biggest competitions in Australia. It’s the Children’s and Young Adults writers conference the, CYA Conference. And they have a category that’s called ‘hatchlings’, which is specifically for young people your age. So what entering competitions does, it gets one, you can get some feedback but also you start to develop your networks and get your name out there as well which is really important. And you can even meet possibly publishers if they’re judging the competitions as well.

There are other things going to ACT Writer’s Center. They have lots of great courses but it connects you as well and gets you involved in that publishing world. But biggest advice, keep writing build those networks, and keep sharing your work.

Renee: Fantastic! Thank you, Nicole. Niamh has asked another question. So she has said: “Do you have any advice about how to share our writing to get more people to see it?”

Nicole: Look really and I think it’s some of those things that I’ve said. If you’re entering, you know a competition that actually gets your work out there as well. But there are also other things that I know that some writers do. They start their own blogs as well and then they start to get a following and that can start in your school. So you can get your class, classmates to start reading you know, your work and that then grows in your school, your broader school community and others. And I know that throughout the school year there are different writing competitions in many schools as well and that I’ve been involved with some schools. And then their work is read out to you know, not just the class but the broader school. So it’s just continuing to do take opportunities like that.

Renee: Fantastic! Thank you. So i don’t think we’ve had any other questions in our chat. So what we’ll do to wrap up the webinar, we’ve got roughly five minutes left is to just have a general chat with all of our speaker. So I would love to ask a question of the three of you, so to Julia, Nicole and Megan. And we can have a bit of a discussion between us. So you have all done such interesting things in your careers and lives as we’ve heard about today. How have you overcome challenges? And has there been someone or something that has supported you in your journey?

Nicole: I’m happy. I’m happy to stumble, just do a quick one then for me. I’ve worked with a couple of Mentors. And so mentors are really people who have sort of been there and done things before and have that expertise and advice. And it just helps. It helped me, guide me in with some of my writing and work. And you just know that you’re on the right track rather than just hoping you are. And the other thing that I do that I find incredibly beneficial, I have a group of fellow authors that’s called a ‘Critique Group’. And we share our writing and our work regularly and we work with each other to improve our, you know, improve our stories, so that they can turn it into books. So my critique group is more than just a group that reviews my writing. You know we’re friends. We support each other, provide ideas and opportunities for each other as well.

Renee: Thanks, Nicole. Megan or Julia, did you want to jump in there?

Megan: I’m happy to jump in if Julia’s not ready to. What helped me the most is the challenges themselves, the obstacles. So there’s a great book called ‘The Obstacle is the way’. And often when we encounter, when we’re trying to do something that’s important to us or we’d like to explore we encounter things that don’t particularly work well and we can get really put off by that. But actually if we persist and work with that obstacle, that thing that’s showing up, we actually find a better way and that’s been my experience. And if we haven’t have encountered that challenge, that obstacle that seemed to be stopping us, we might not have found an amazing new pathway. In order to achieve what we wanted to.

One of the catch phrases that I really love with this is ‘to have courage before confidence’. So when we start out on things, we might be put off by not feeling confident but that’s a bit of a Trick. So courage is the thing. It will come first and the confidence will come later when you, when you have practiced and worked through things. And the second thing for me is working with stakeholders, working with a lot of different people who have an interest in the thing that you’re doing, and doing it with them. So you just learn so much by taking action with other people because they always you know, many minds can really bring forward ideas and things that you might not be seeing yourself. So I love working with lots of people in their own areas of skill that I don’t have.

Julia: Watching world and watching what’s going around us and working with people who share that passion, and passion with art but also passion with nature. And the thing I really love is seeing the results of what we’re doing, and working with fans and children. This is an example of, bringing in lizards to a classroom for example and letting children see for the very first time up close. Some of the amazing things that we have in our world, the person doing some drawing of some of them, lizard as well and looking at stick insects and learning more about them in the classroom setting. I love seeing the inspiration that brings with people who their passion for a better world and for our environment to be protected and conserved.

Renee: Fantastic! Thank you so much all of you for sharing those views and opinions and thoughts. I think a lot of us have been very inspired by what we’ve heard today and I’ve seen in the chat that a few people have voiced that and Aaliah even said that you’ve inspired her to get started on a new journey. So that’s fantastic. I think that’s exactly why we’re here today. Now it is time for us to wrap up.

So I want to thank everyone for joining us for our first webinar for Canberra Women of Science and Art. It doesn’t have to end here though. So we’ve got our competition open online where you can create an artistic Submission. So you can submit that and win some prizes. So it can be anything, you can create a painting, you could submit your stick insect that you drew today with Julia, you could do something from our activity and resources kit that we sent you all in an email, totally up to you. It can be something digital as well like a video or an animation. We just want the most creative entries possible.

So we’ll be handing out prizes for that. And Nicole has donated one of her books, I believe the ‘Billie’ book. So that’s the dolphin one that she was showing us all. Excellent! Thanks for that Nicole.

And Julia has offered up a either a one-on-one art session with her or an art session with your whole classroom, so your school class there. We also have prizes from Questacon. They’ve donated a few passes and from careers with Stem Defense Science and Technology National Science Week and Innovate Communicate. So lots of Canberra businesses and organisations have helped us out with those prizes as well.

So make sure you submit those entries. They close on 20, the 23rd of August. And yeah we also have another webinar on Monday night if you’d like to join us again where we’ll be featuring Maddie Diamond and Mikaela who created Indigital. So thank you again everyone for joining us and thank you to our speakers for joining us as well. It’s been fantastic. And hopefully we’ll see you all again soon.

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