PlanetJune Craft Blog

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PlanetJune Stories: Domino Joyce

Today’s PlanetJune Story comes from Dr Domino Joyce, an evolutionary biologist by day and crocheter by night, who found a novel way to use amigurumi to educate children (and adults) about evolution!

I’ll let Domino explain:


history of life interactive crocheted exhibit

I’m an evolutionary biologist at the University of Hull, UK and I’ve wanted to learn to crochet for ages. Last year, when I was on maternity leave, I taught myself with YouTube videos, and I started making toys while my baby son slept on me. I became a little addicted to it and found some amazing patterns representing the diversity of life, but the PlanetJune site quickly became my favourite place because the animals are so much more realistic than many designs, and the patterns are amazingly clear and well designed.

Every year at Hull University, we have a Science Festival, and I began to formulate a way to combine science communication with my new crochet addiction. I thought I would make a poster containing a timeline of the history of earth, and use the toys to illustrate when particular things evolved. The PlanetJune dinosaur sets proved particularly inspiring for this!

history of life interactive crocheted exhibit

I made a tabletop timeline poster, as well as backdrop posters with links to the patterns, and have made these available (here) for anyone who wants to download and print their own.

The key message I wanted to get across is that evolution has taken place over a timescale so long, it is hard to visualise. The earth is 4.5 billion years old, but most of the life we know about and see today evolved ‘only’ in the last 540 million years or so. There was a very long period of time when not much happened at all!

history of life interactive crocheted exhibit

This weekend (after a lot of crocheting) the festival took place. It was a big success – we were expecting about 1500-2000 visitors, but received almost 5000. I asked the children who visited my stand to place the crochet dinosaurs on the timeline where they thought they should go, and nearly all of them put them right at the beginning of the line, and were amazed when I told them the correct place was much closer to “NOW” than they thought.

history of life interactive crocheted exhibit

I was able to talk them through the history of (some!) life using the various organisms I had made, including a crochet Mary Anning and Charles Darwin representing Homo sapiens. My favourite part used the Emperor Penguin to convey the idea that birds are simply dinosaurs that survived and carried on evolving.

history of life interactive crocheted exhibit

The toys worked really well to draw children and adults in to the stand to find out what it was about, and I think I convinced a few of the adults they should try crocheting, as well as inspiring a few who already crochet to try some of these patterns!

But most of all, I hope I helped both children and adults to understand the history of life on earth a little more clearly.


(Back to me, June, again!)

Based on your account and photos, I’m sure you accomplished that mission, Domino! Congratulations on such a successful event, and for coming up with such a great idea for a fun, interactive learning experience.

One of the things that makes me really proud as a designer of realistic animal and plant patterns is when professional scientists who study the organisms I reproduce in crochet are fans of my work – it’s high praise indeed whenever I hear from botanists, paleontologists, marine biologists (and now evolutionary biologists!) etc who appreciate my designs. And I’m so happy that my patterns could play a part in Domino’s Science Festival exhibit – it’s lovely to think that, even though I’m no longer working in the field of science, I’m still helping in some small way to educate the scientists of the future.

Thank you so much, Domino, for sharing your story with us today πŸ™‚
Please leave Domino a comment if you’ve enjoyed this post!

Do you have a PlanetJune Story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it! Please email your story to june@planetjune.com, together with one or more high quality photos showing what you’ve made from PlanetJune patterns. If I choose your story to feature here on the blog, I’ll send you your choice of pattern from my shop to say thank you!


PS – If you’re feeling inspired to crochet some PlanetJune dinosaurs and penguins too, you can find all the patterns in my shop:

10 Comments »

  1. Pamela said

    This is so inspiring! Here in the states, you will run into a lot of people who don’t believe evolution even happened…. this is a nice breath of fresh air!

    • Mya said

      There is a difference in believing the theory of human evolution and believing that evolution happens around us constantly (theory of evolution). Which one are you referring to?

      • Science is true whether you “believe” in it or not. πŸ™‚ Evolution is a proven fact.

  2. Monica B said

    Oh My Gosh! that’s AMAZING! such a fun and inspiring story!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! so creative!

  3. I love this story so much! Yay for science! Yay for crochet! And yay for making learning fun!

  4. .: petrOlly :. said

    What a fantastic project, Domino! I totally love the idea as well as the execution πŸ™‚ I hope some kids and even adults will find and explore the love for crochet and evolution/science in general. Perfect!

    @June – (marine) geologists also loved your designs πŸ˜‰

  5. Jamie said

    This was a lovely story, Dr. Joyce! Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

  6. Karen H said

    I think that was a creative way to get kids and parents alike involved into science! It seems like thinking out of the box was very successful !

  7. Alicia said

    That looks like so much fun. If you ever bring your project to Austin TX, I’ll be in line to see it.

  8. Domino Joyce said

    Thanks so much for the positive comments, lovely to read.

    I hope some of you are inspired to download the materials and make your own timeline!

    Domino.

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Please note that I can only answer questions related to PlanetJune patterns and tutorials (see details), and I can only respond to questions or comments written in English. Thank you :) - June

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    June Gilbank

    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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