Ripley County, In. — Mary Brown, a double major in junior elementary education and special education at Ball State University Milan, Indiana, is in Florida until March 2 to research manatees, seahorses and sea turtles for the Conservation Tales, a series of books for children grades 3-5 that features an endangered, threatened or vulnerable species or groups of species.
Brown’s role on the diverse team of 12 students includes helping write the books at the correct reading levels and both developing and representing the characters accurately.
The project is one of the university’s immersive learning projects. These efforts bring together interdisciplinary, student-driven teams guided by faculty mentors to create high-impact learning experiences. Through immersive learning, students earn credit for working collaboratively with businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies to address community challenges.
The team is led by Ball State biologist and author of the series Tom McConnell and art professor Barbara Giorgio-Booher. Books about warblers, bats and salamanders are already part of the series, and this research trip will result in three new books about manatees, seahorses and sea turtles. The series was created by McConnell to help students grades 3-5 understand endangered animals and the importance of protecting these species.
“The collaboration across majors is by far the best experience. I am learning more about art and what truly goes into creating a book than I ever thought that I would,” Brown said. “If not for this class, I would never have been able to collaborate with such talented individuals”