Nine students in kindergarten through fifth grade are first, second or third place winners in Notre Dame’s first Living Worlds Space Art Contest in which students are asked to imagine and depict the unusual forms of life that might inhabit other planets. In addition to the artwork, entrants also include written descriptions of their creature, describing how it has adapted to conditions on its planet.
Over 1,000 students from ten states submitted entries to the contest which allows students to explore evolution, adaptation and the discovery of planets around other stars. Entries are divided into classroom categories of grades K-1, 2-3 and 3-5. Prizes have been awarded for first through third places in each grade range.
Teachers across the country have access to learning materials on animals, space, planets and stars to guide students, including a Living Worlds sample lesson from the iLocater program at Notre Dame. The Living Worlds Space Art Contest is part of the iLocater program’s outreach. iLocater, an ultra-precise spectrometer being developed at Notre Dame that will use infrared wavelengths to find new planets, is expected to be operational in 2018.
Katie Corrigan, an art teacher at Palmer Catholic Academy in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, said she has engaged students through all the K-5 grade levels in her school, and they’ve been excited to find such a creative way to mingle art with science. “Once we got past the stereotypical ‘little green aliens with six googly eyes’ stage and they grasped the concept of adapting to an environment more thoroughly, their creativity has taken off,” Corrigan said. “As an educator, I want to thank you for something that fit so beautifully into the STREAM initiative we incorporate into our cross-curricular lesson planning (STEM plus R for religion and A for Art).”
The first place winner will receive a $250 teacher cash card, a $75 student space swag bag and a classroom Skype session with Notre Dame iLocater scientists. The second place winner will receive a $150 teacher cash card and a $75 student space swag bag; and the third place winner will receive a $100 teacher cash card and a $75 student space swag bag.