Thursday, June 2, 2011

Meet Alexandra Siy

Alexandra Siy is a new member and wonderful addition to the Ink Think Tank roster of Ink Thinkers and database contributors. She's on a mission to amaze and engage kids by taking a closer look at nature by using their own eyes. See for yourself.

Exploring Hidden Worlds

By Alexandra Siy

One of my earliest childhood memories is of a summer nature walk around a small pond near our home. The sound of frogs and songbirds, the smell of wildflowers and water, and a thousand shades of green are still alive within me—inspiration for my work as an author, photographer, and educator. Books, both fiction and nonfiction, can draw children into exciting and alien worlds—while helping them understand their own world. Ever since looking through a simple magnifying glass as a small child, I have been fascinated by the microscopic. Several of
my books reveal the microscopic world, including my newest title BUG SHOTS: The Good, the Bad, and the Bugly. Illustrated with electron micrographs by my collaborator Dennis Kunkel, our books introduce children to the beautiful and fascinating microscopic worlds that are part of our every day lives. Yet I believe that books should be just part of a child’s relationship with the microscopic world, helping to form a context for real life experience.

Exploring hidden worlds with a child is both exciting and rewarding. It is also a simple and inexpensive activity that you can do again and again. The only equipment required is a small hand lens or jeweler’s loupe and your wide-open eyes. It is truly astonishing what is revealed while looking closely at everyday objects. Flower petals, blades of grass, a seashell, grains of sand, even the skin on your hand, become larger than life. Upon seeing things up close, a child’s mind is expanded and new ideas unfold.

The experience of looking closely is greatly enhanced by using the methods developed by “
The Private Eye.” This remarkable program is designed to “accelerate thinking skills, creativity, literacy and scientific literacy across subjects, K-16 through life, all levels.” I have used The Private Eye Guide to Developing the Interdisciplinary Mind as well as The Private Eye loupes and other materials with children of all ages. (Check out my review of some their products on
A few simple questions form the core of The Private Eye experience. While looking at a specimen through a magnifying loupe ask yourself: What else does it remind me of? What else does it look like? Why did it remind me of that? Why is it like that? The answers to the questions lead to analogies, comparisons, and metaphors forming material for creative writing, scientific discovery, inventions, problem solving, and more.

This summer spend some time outside with a child exploring hidden worlds. You may be surprised by what you discover about your world, and about yourself in the process.


Jim Murphy said...

Very nice post, Alexandra. Welcome aboard! Jim

Alexandra said...

Thank you Jim, it's great to be part of INK!