This week Aqua Squad is working on their photography exhibition! Painting, mounting labels and organizing their photographs takes a lot of effort–but it’s fun! Hopefully this exhibit will bring the community together to talk about the important issue of water.
Join us October 18th at 6 PM for refreshments, great photography and a chance to find out what you can do to help our River. Check out what we’re up to below.
We just wrapped our second week of Art/Science Fusion for 2nd graders here at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts and the Upper Colorado River Authority. We hope your students have enjoyed their time here with us so far! For those teachers who are looking to continue writing nature inspired poetry with their classes, here’s a link to the poem form: HaikuPoem
Also, here are some of the artworks we looked at for inspiration.
And finally, we have a poll for your students! Check it out below.
Also, please feel free to share thoughts, ideas or activities your students are doing in the classroom that connect to Where in the World is Nature!
Here’s a quick video Andreas took of Dr. Ryder revealing the Frozen Zoo in San Diego!
Aqua Squad is gearing up to present to the community about our water issues! Join us at Eco Fair on October 13th to learn about what YOU can do to save San Angelo’s water.
Also, join us October 13th at Eco Fair at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts (1 Love Street) to find out what you can do to save San Angelo water!
AND, don’t forget our art exhibition opening on October 18th at 6 PM. The show is called Crisis in the Concho, and it features all the photos we took over the summer.
See you soon!
Did you know if it’s on the ground, it’s also in the water? One of Aquasquad’s community services activities included teaming up with Sierra Vista, one of San Angelo’s local churches, and having a river cleanup. We spent several hours working on this project and the results were worth it. The amount of trash in and around the river was unbelievable. We found things ranging from empty bags of chips to full trash cans. Although it seems like throwing YOUR empty Sonic cup in the street has no effect on you, it does when a quarter of the population of San Angelo does it. Instead of throwing your trash in the street, find a nearby trash can or recycle your items. So next time you see trash, pick it up so it won’t end up in our water. Cleaning the river brought everyone closer together. (:
San Diego, California and San Angelo, Texas are alike in certain ways. For example, the San Diego Safari Park has filtration ponds just like the ones we have behind the Museum of Fine Arts. Filtration ponds uses plants to absorb bacteria and nutrients out of the water. When bacteria and nutrinets are left in the water, algae grows taking oxygen from the water. When the algae dies, the decomposers eat it and then reproduce. They take even more oxygen from the water until finally water creatures start dying. Grants funded the building of the filtration ponds at the Safari Park. These ponds helped move water creatures around the pond system. The water got cleaner by using the filtration ponds. The old system sent the water to the top of a hill and as it slid down the bacteria and nutrients got trapped in the ground plants. Way to go San Diego for improving your water quality! They also have two mini reserviors where the water is saved just like our three reserviors; Twin Buttes, O.C. Fisher, and Lake Nasworthy. Creatures live in and around the reserviors year around such as pelicans and deer. The city of San Diego has the San Diego River running through it just like San Angelo has the Concho River running through it. They’re even going through a drought, like us, and they have to conserve their precious natural
resource…water. For more information on how to conserve water tune in for more Aqua Squad updates.
This is Julia, Dakota and Diamond. Today we followed the San Diego River with Richard from the River Park Foundation. We started at Missions Trails Park and learned about riparian habitats, which are the plants and animals that live by the river. We also saw a really cool snake at the visitors center, his name was Curtis. We learned that the native sage and buckwheat are important to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Next Richard told us about the Old Mission Dam, which was finished in 1816. Walking across the dam made us feel like we were going through time when Indians worked hard to get this built for the mission. Next we visited some community preserves with nature trails and native plants. Richard told us to engage the community because when the community cares, change happens! And this is how we can bring the river back. This inspired us to think about our own Concho River this way.
Lastly we ended at the dog beach at Ocean Beach where the river meets the ocean. Can you believe that only 5% of the coastal wetlands remain? They serve as nurseries for many fish, insects, and native plants. They also have endangered plant species such as the Birds Beak… which feels like a cotton swab but looks like needles!
Following the San Diego River made us realize that we can make saving the river a really cool thing to do.
To top off our day we played at La Jolla Beach the rest of the day. This was definitely different than West Texas!
That means 2 in one at the San Diego Zoo because saving species also means saving their habitats. WATER is in every habitat.
This is John, Henry, and Andreas and were going to let you know what we experienced at the San Diego Zoo.
After leaving the Museum of Photographic Arts we headed to the San Diego Zoo where we met Judi who told us a little about the Zoo and took us to our private tour with Wendy. Wendy took us to look at all the animals and even let us feed the camels. One big highlight of the day was meeting Doug Myers, Director of the San Diego Zoo. We were struck by how much he cared about not just the zoo but also the environment. It was cool to find out how much we had in common.
We had a great time, learned a lot, and even got to share our water conservation ideas with a goofy zebra named Robert. Check it out!
Hi there! This is Kirstin and Ashley here to tell you about our visit to the Museum of Photographic Arts. While there we got lots of ideas about how to use photography to communicate our message about water conservation.
We took a photographic scavenger hunt around Balboa Park to practice techniques to improve our photographs. Below are some of the best photos from our hunt.
A Worm’s Eye View
A Bird’s Eye View
The Rule of Thirds
Line & Shape
Each of these techniques enhances our ability to communicate successfully through photography. This is definitely going to help us make Crisis in the Cocho (our photography exhibit opening in October) a great show!
So if you are ever in San Diego we would definitely recommend going to the Museum of Photographic Arts. And thank you to James for being a wonderful tour guide!
Welcome aboard the USS Midway Museum! This is Gillian and Joe here to tell you about some of the cool things we saw there.
The above picture taken by Gillian is one of the many good examples of how this museum showed what life was like on the USS Midway.There was also an audio tour which gave facts and details about rooms and areas in the carrier. It was like listening to a book about the ship. Each number on the tour was another chapter in the story.We found out the aircraft carrier didn’t just float on water, but it had to use water to run. Here is a good site to see pictures of the USS Midway’s boiler room. http://www.midwaysailor.com/frankday/engineroom.html
The museum also had hands-on activities. We really liked the station where you had to figure out how to use the ship’s energy in the best way. This taught us that not everything is important and you must have your priorities straight to complete your mission. As members of Aqua Squad our mission is to educate the public about water issues–especially how to conserve and save it. And we will not stop fighting until we complete our mission! Hopefully our photo exhibit will be as organized as the exhibits at the USS Midway…
When is maintaining our lawns bad for our river? Believe it or not yard clippings such as grass and leaves are harmful to the environment. When grass is cut and blown into the street rains wash them into waterways such as rivers, lakes, and ponds. After that, the river’s decomposers eat and grow, stealing more and more oxygen from the river which eventually leads to the ecosystem’s fall.
- Leave them on your lawn. Grass clipping serve as a natural fertilizer, which saves you time and money.
- Put them in biodegradable bags or a cardboard box and send them to the landfill
- Put them in your compost bin
And NOT that:
- Blow grass clippings onto the street
- Burn them
- Throw them away in a plastic bag
This is a test post for Aqua Squad. We’re learning how to blog, so expect some new content soon!
Are you a student in the San Angelo Independent School District and going into 7th or 8th grade next year (2012-2013 school year)?
Have you heard a lot about water issues in San Angelo lately?
Are you creative? Do you love to help?
Then you should apply for Aqua Squad!
Download the application to get started: AquaSquadApplication2012
Selected students will travel to San Diego to learn about photography and H20 issues. Your final challenge is to create a photography exhibit about water in San Angelo and beyond!
Below are some of the fun things Aqua Squad did last year. Join the fun–and become part of the solution to our water problems! To find out more, follow this link: http://artmuseumscience.wordpress.com/aqua-squad/
We have been finding nature everywhere! After touring the museum galleries with Megan and witnessing nature in art… students headed over to the UCRA Water Education Center with Christy (that’s me) to jump into the science of it.
In Session 2 of Art/Science Fusion we found limestone in the art museum building (made from sea creatures…. can you believe that?), cotton in our blue jeans, mesquite wood in tables and sheep’s wool in blankets. Humans are more connected to nature than we realize. And we are pretty smart about how to use these resources – because we watched how they are used in nature! Cotton is light and breezy to disperse those seeds and wool keeps sheep warm and dry and so it keeps us warm and dry too.
After thinking about all of this, we classified and sorted many PRODUCTS made from these natural resources into the right bins. We did amazingly well! We also really understood how taking care of the world around us is so important in making sure we have these resources for many more years.
Last week during our Where in the World is Nature tour, San Angelo 2nd graders discussed how artists use nature. After viewing some great artworks, we worked together to write haiku poems Here are a few of them along with photos of some of the art we talked about:
by Ms. Bennett’s 2nd grade class at San Jacinto Elementary
The floor is mesquite
The sculpture is crepe myrtle
Trees are nature made
Untitled (About Sudden Insight)
by Ms. Nixon’s 2nd grade class at Belaire Elementary
Hard bumpy sculpture, black
Hangs from the ceiling
by Ms. Garcia’s 2nd grade class at Belaire Elementary
Stones are hard, smooth, flat
Colorful, bumpy, rocky
Stones make solid walls
by Ms. Oakley’s 2nd grade class at Belaire Elementary
Rainstorms, hail, water
Loud scary thunder
by Ms. Jackson’s 2nd grade class at San Jacinto Elementary
Clay is very wet
Clay is shaped and used by artists
It is dried and baked
Welcome to the spring 2012 session of Art/Science Fusion.
The big question we are answering during the next 4 weeks is: Where in the World is Nature?
The videos, projects and other goodies we post here will help you connect Art/Science Fusion to the classroom. Check back every week for new posts.
To get started, work as a class to make a list of things that come from nature. Then, send that list to Megan at email@example.com. I will post the lists on the blog. Let’s see which classroom can name the most things from nature. Ready? Go!
Looking forward to seeing you this spring. And psst! The next post is a sneak peek of one of the works you will see on the tour.
What materials did Lloyd Blanks use to create this artwork? Find out on our tour!
With the holidays approaching, the Center for Creative Energy is getting into the spirit. It’s a festive time of year, and the UCRA Water Education Center in San Angelo, Texas is buzzing with cheer. Here’s why:
1. Art/Science Fusion final show on December 15th! We just got some great press in the San Angelo Standard Times, so we know we’re going to see a crowd. Check it out! Below are some photos from the fall programs.
2. Aqua Squad’s exhibit ideas are coming together in physical form! After cleaning out over 100 gallon jugs from the local recycling center (Dr. Christy Youker gets an enormous HIGH FIVE for that heroic feat–some of those jugs were pretty rancid), Bekah and Megan built two gallon trees (with the help of Emily) to represent how much water most households use per day. Aqua Squad came up with this idea and now it’s real–just in time for the holiday season. Click here to see how Aqua Squad came up with this great idea. The official “tree lighting” will be during the Art/Science Fusion final show. Come back after Thursday to see a video of the tree lighting.
During the Flood and Drought: Texas With and Without Water tour, Art/Science Fusion 2nd graders view a series of lithographs by Texas artists. So far the students have been curious about how you can put a drawing on a stone and then print from it. Here’s a great video from the Museum of Modern Art explaining the process in more detail:
Lithography involves too many heavy chemicals (and stones!) to do in the Education Studio at SAMFA. So instead, we’re doing relief prints. Here’s the process we’re using:
Although, not as fast!
by Mark Guzdial
Just got this article in my inbox from Computing Education Blog. If you can, please share it with as many administrators and school board members as possible. If we want success for our youth here in America, we need to have an honest conversation about our priorities for education. Testing causes a lot of stress for students, teachers and administrators. This article made me ask, “Is it worth it?” If our test scores are not reflecting or positively affecting how our students perform in real life, what’s the point? Standardized testing is a great way to see if students as a whole are retaining certain content, but students need to do more with content than retain it. They need to live with it.
Our programs here at the Center for Creative Energy are project-based, and although we align with state content standards, delivering that content for high test scores is not the goal. We like hands-on and minds-on learning where students get down and dirty with knowledge. (Literally. We spray paint storm drains, catch and identify macroinvertebrates, paint Texas ecoregions with watercolor, create prints about flood and drought in San Angelo, collect dead fish for art installations about dried up reservoirs, and much more.)
Activities like these deliver and reinforce content through participation rather than memorization and recall. It also connects content to real world problems like water conservation here in San Angelo. Project-based curriculum is rooted in the idea that learning is important for a healthy community and successful career. Students also smile a lot during our programs–not only is learning important for a great job, it’s also part of a happy life.
We work directly with our local school district (SAISD) to design and implement all of these programs, and a lot of our content delivery is relieved from effective classroom education. SAMFA and UCRA provide places where students can reinforce and apply content outside the classroom. Are partnerships between schools, museums, and community organizations a way to reach a happy medium between test-prep, content standards, and unique experiences that make learning meaningful in real life?
They could be, but right now it isn’t a perfect system that alleviates all test stress. The Center for Creative Energy often works outside the classroom system to facilitate programs. For example, we switched our audience for Art/Science Fusion from 3rd grade to 2nd because of test prep conflict issues in the spring. Aqua Squad and Camp Odyssey are summer enrichment programs not directly integrated into the classroom.
However, could our programs work during the school year alongside test preparation, even in support of it? Of course. Is trying it worth the risk to schools and administrators who stand to loose funding and jobs because of low performance? Probably not. Incentive based standardized testing is a reality that every educator has to deal with until policy adjusts to real statistics outlined in great articles like the one above.
For now, we are providing unique art and science programs for as many students as we can. Students who haven’t yet experienced test related stress and those enjoying summer vacation to forget it are the ones who can gain the most from programs that connect learning to a happy life.
To end on a seriously sappy note, here’s a slideshow of happy smiles!
Where did the summer go? Camp Odyssey came and went so fast – it is already September and we hadn’t even let you know how much fun we had at this incredible week-long camp! Our mission: to explore the workings of our water system and then put it together in an amazingly creative way on how it inspired us.
Our journey began that first (very HOT!) week in August at Fort Concho Elementary where 40 enthusiastic campers met to take on the trek through San Angelo’s water system. With journals in hand, and with the guidance of our fearless SAISD teacher-leaders, we began at the South Concho River in Christoval where we calculated flow and investigated macroinvertebrates (water insects!) in their different larval stages to determine water quality. We even came across a water snake that wasn’t so happy to see us!
The next two stops were the Water Treatment Plant and the Wastewater Treatment Plant where we learned how we get our water clean enough to drink and then what happens to it once it goes down the sink. Talk about coming full-circle! We literally watched sewer water come in through pipes and get treated – mostly by just keeping the natural balance of microorganisms in check. It was definitely a smelly experience! We found a cool video on how water gets treated: http://youtu.be/Ud-SbwmqJ7c
The final day was when the campers put it all together and were ready to tell the public what they gained from this experience. With the help of Bekah from the Art Museum, Cami with the San Angelo Civic Ballet, our awesome expert-teachers and UCRA staff, the products were awe-inspiring! From an interpretive dance of the wastewater system, murals of our lakes, and a 3D Model of our water system, the campers had much to show off in our performance. We even had a hanging tumbleweed with perfectly placed dead fish to get our point across of our water problems!
All we have to say about Camp Odyssey is “Whoa!! Now that was a journey!” We sure hope you come along next summer….
Wow! It has been one amazing summer–I can’t believe it’s the middle of September already!
Aqua Squad has been out and about the community pitching their exhibition and education kit design ideas, and engaging the public with local water issues. So far they’ve presented to the San Angelo City Council and the board and director of the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts (SAMFA), and they made a special appearance at the Girl Scout’s Race on the River just today. Below is a video of Emily and Anyssa demonstrating how non-point source pollution affects our water supply during the river race:
Check back to see Aqua Squad racing canoes. It was pretty epic!
Aqua Squad will also present to the boards of the Upper Colorado River Authority and San Angelo Independent School District in the upcoming weeks. They will also head up an awesome hands-on station and art installation at the Eco Fair Family Day on October 8 at SAMFA. (Bring a plastic gallon jug to the event if you want to be part of the action)!
Curious about their exhibition ideas and loan kits? So far, all I will say is that they involve pirate games, toilets, and lots of creativity and water facts! Below are the inspiration boards Aqua Squad created to share their ideas.
Okay, okay–I’ll give you more details about their exhibition and educational resource ideas! The educational loan kit is a pirate themed board game about watersheds that will be take middle school students on a hunt for clean water. The jugs and toilets are part of an exhibit showing how much water we use daily (about 80 gallons!) and what we can do to use less. Both are going to be AWESOME!
The final products will be developed within the next few months, so be sure to check back on their progress. All of the projects were inspired by their experiences in Chicago, their love of water, and their dedication to the future of the San Angelo community. Drought may be lingering, but with these creative kids on the task of educating the public about water conservation and quality, I’m hopeful that this community will continue to grow and thrive as it invents new solutions to solve the water crisis.
To sum up the Summer, here’s a gallery of the Chicago trip and all of the awesome things Aqua Squad did do far! Enjoy!
This fall’s Art/Science Fusion couldn’t be more timely for West Texas, or serious! Just today, USA Today featured San Angelo in a front page story about one of the worst droughts in Texas history. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the 1936 Flood, during which the Concho River took out 12 buildings downtown and destroyed 300 homes!
The theme for Art/Science Fusion is Flood and Drought: With and Without Water in West Texas. The goal is to get 2nd graders thinking about the critical role water plays in everyday life, and how we in San Angelo can work to respect and conserve this precious and powerful resource. They will take a tour of the West Texas collection at SAMFA with Megan, learn about desert adaptation with Christy at the UCRA, and then make prints about our water situation with Bekah in the Education Studio. Below is a sneak preview of some of the art the 2nd graders will see, and some useful links related to the program.
A great story from the USA today about the drought in Texas: USA Today
A nice resource about plants that thrive in the desert. What can we learn from them? Plants
The National Weather Service’s report on the 1936 Flood in San Angelo: Flood
An interactive site about Early Texas Art. Be sure to click the link on the left to see the unique regions of Texas! Texas Art
Check back for a full curriculum, and also be sure to see Old Fort Concho’s new exhibition on the 1936 Flood opening on Saturday, September 17th (the actual anniversary)!
Although visiting the Fort for the flood exhibition isn’t possible during the Art/Science Fusion sessions, we STRONGLY encourage your class or school to take a trip over to check out this timely exhibition either after one of your Art/Science Fusion sessions or later in the year. It would be a great way to add some local history into your curriculum. We’ll be touching on Texas history a bit, but nobody can do it like Bob and his team of educators next door! I will officially say the more interdisciplinary the better. Plus I love the Fort–they have good history and a couple of ADORABLE mules!
See you soon!
Hi… this is Sully and Anne Marie! Today’s adventure began at the Museum of Contemporary Art with Alex, our tour guide. Contemporary art, we learned, is art created by artists that are still living (well, usually). We were especially excited by the works of Mark Bradford. The most interesting part was the way the art was arranged. The walls were bright white which made the color pop! The lighting was perfectly pointed to the works which made it even more intriguing. The artist took everyday items and also things off the street and made them his own in a way that conveyed a strong message. And the thing about contemporary art is that it can often be perceived in different ways by different people! One piece in particular was a GIANT boat that the community in New Orleans built after the devastating hurricane Katrina practically destroyed their homes and took many loved ones. The boat represented the personal struggles people went through to get through these hard times the flood had caused.
As Aqua Squad, we were inspired by the use of soundless video (like Mark Bradford used) to create a strong visual message. And using everyday materials was also something we could take back with us to inspire others to take better care of our environment. We began to think more abstractly and creatively – which was a big message from the Museum of Contemporary Art!
Here’s a video from the tour. Addison, Ann-Marie and Will are “owning it”!
You know, it’s not everyday, you get to wake up in a city where there are so many amazing things to do! Chicago isn’t just a place where millions of people live, it also attracts many tourists for the beauty and architecture. I think it’s really cool to see the diversity of people in downtown, shopping and walking around. One of the things we were privileged to do, was visit the Chicago River Bridgehouse Museum. Chicago has the most bridges along the river, which means they also have the most bridgehouses of any city in the United States. We learned from Ozana King, Museum Director, that Chicago reversed the flow of the river to improve water quality. Did you know, back in the 1800′s, the Chicago River used to be so dirty, that it would catch on fire? It was also so smelly, nobody wanted to even get close to it, but now some of the most expensive property is right next to the river. This is largely because of the Friends of the Chicago River. They have river clean ups and water monitoring volunteer programs going on throughout the year. In San Angelo, we are also working to reclaim our river so that it is healthier again. People don’t want to even swim in the Concho River. We have already made big improvements though, but Aqua Squad cannot do this alone. It’s going to take everyone working together. The Bridgehouse Museum inspired us to do just that.
Anyssa Catches a Bone about Exhibit Design at the Field Museum
Hey everybody! Have you been to the Field Museum in Chicago? If you’re an educational designer like us in Aqua Squad, you should go because it’s a great place to get new ideas for designing exhibits and giving information in a different way.
It showed us different ways to light exhibits (dimming the lights made the exhibits stick out, and if the lights were bright the artifacts might fade or lose their color), we saw how to arrange artifacts, where to put text panels, and unique ways to give information about the artifacts, (for example there were sculptures and paintings of dinosaurs to show what they looked like when they were alive). Here are some examples of some interesting things I saw:
Our tour guide, Paula, was also a source of information because she has worked at the the Field Museum for a long time, she was really into the artifacts, and she was really happy to see other people enjoying the museum as much as she does. Paula really loves what she does! Taking the tour with Paula made the experience really special.
I loved visiting the Field Museum. You’ll never know what ideas you will get until you try something new!
Today Ethan and Emily (who are writing this blog) and the other Aqua Squad members went to the Art Institute of Chicago. We each gained our own new perspective and experienced innovation through art.
Georgia O’ Keefe’s last completed painting helped us to realize that things are not always as they seem. When asked what we saw in Sky Above Clouds, all of our answers were different. Not knowing what the title was, we all gave our answers: glaciers, clouds, white marble with blue grout (like flooring), a path, the sky, and even Chicago. It turns out it was painting of clouds from an airplane view. It looked familiar to us because it was very cloudy from our windows on the plane to Chicago. Georgia O’ Keefe was inspired by her first plane ride at age 62. For some of us in Aqua Squad, it was our first flight, too!
We learned that each person has their own perspective on art, and each piece gives out its own message to every person.
We also learned that we all have a unique sense of creativity, and used innovative artistic techniques to express our personal views of Chicago’s beautiful skyline and parks. Below are a few images of our experiments and works in progress.
So how does all this relate to what we’re doing with water in San Angelo? Well, it helps us to become educational designers by challenging and inspiring us to create innovative ideas for helping our water systems! Today was an unbelievable experience that we will never forget!
To end, here are some of the most innovative things we’ve seen in Chicago so far!
And Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate at Millennium Park!
Addison and Will of Aqua Squad SHEDD Some Light on Water Conservation.
San Angelo has some problems with our water. We’re in the middle of a huge drought, the Concho River was designated an impaired body of water by the EPA, and three of our four lakes are drying up.
Chicago has a plentiful source of water, but struggles with issues of quality and others trying to take water from Lake Michigan and other Great Lakes by building pipelines away from the city. Water is a precious resource everywhere!
Today we explored how the Shedd Aquarium tries to conserve water. We went behind the scenes to explore how water goes from Chicago’s municipal water supply and through the water carbon filter system, and then treated to replicate the types of water the animals live in.
Allen La Pointe, the Shedd’s “Water Go to Guy” (a.k.a. Director of Environmental Quality), led us through all these amazing processes. We also discussed ways that the Shedd helps conserve water. A lot of them really surprised us. For example:
Tyler the Sea Lion was splashing 2,000 gallons of water out of his tank…per day (to Allen’s dismay). Tyler is the star of the sea lion dolphin show, so selling or giving Tyler away probably wasn’t an option. Instead, they put in a drain to collect the water and pump it back into Tyler’s tank. Tyler now splashes happily ever after with no water wasted. Below is a video of Tyler performing some amazing tricks. He was awesome!
We were also surprised to know that only 54% of the water is for animals. The other 46% is for people! The picture below shows just one way the Shedd helps conserve water for human use.
Once all this water is used, the Shedd partially cleans it to prevent the waste water treatment plant from being strained and to help keep the water from becoming contaminated by algae and bacteria from exotic species .
We concluded that that all the water at the Shedd is for people. We’re the ones that built the aquarium in 1930. We’re the ones that want to spend hours and hours looking at animals. 2.1 million people per year visit the Shedd Aquarium. This is for us! So we’re happy to know the Shedd is working so hard to conserve water and keep it clean.
Conserving water is all of our responsibility, and you don’t have to be an awesome expert like Allen to save water.
Here are some tips how you can be a water hero:
Find out about your local water laws. Could you use rainwater or grey water to to water your lawn?
Water early morning or early evening.
Take 5 minute showers.
Look into low flow toilets, shower heads, and washing machines.
P.S. The Shedd doesn’t use pesticides. They pick their weeds because they don’t want to pollute Lake Michigan. After all, the staff, visitors and animals use that water to live!
This Sunday (at 6 AM) Aqua Squad, Megan, Lillian and Christy will be flying off to Chicago for an intense week of brainstorming, creativity, exploration, research, art and the big city life! When we return, we will use what we learned to develop fantastic exhibits, resources, and artworks that will help the public consider and understand one of the most critical environmental issues facing San Angelo, Texas and the world: water quality and scarcity!
Aqua Squad will be making posts throughout the week, but for now, here’s a quick look at the itinerary.
Aqua Squad will spend a whole day working with Director Ted Beattie brainstorming ideas for exhibition design. We’ll also be learning how to take complicated scientific concepts and present them to the public in a way that is engaging, emotional, and easy to understand. AND they have penguins, so we’ll probably learn a lot from those guys, too.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Contemporary artists often have a knack for using unexpected materials, arresting imagery, and interactive spaces to get the public thinking and talking about important issues facing our world (including pressing environmental issues). Exploring the MCA collection will no doubt inspire us to create some truly innovative projects to get the public thinking about water. The Art Nerds in the group are also very excited about this exhibition: Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection.
Willis Tower (Sears Tower)
Okay, so Sears isn’t actually headquartered there and technically it’s not the Sears Tower anymore, but that doesn’t change the fact that this skyscraper offers a great view of Lake Michigan. The Great Lakes hold 21% of the world’s fresh surface water, and we’re excited to see and study one of them. Gaining new perspectives and reaching new heights? We’ll definitely be checking that off our lists!
Meet Aqua Squad! We are 7th and 8th grade students from the San Angelo Independent School District. We are water ambassadors!
What do we do?
We speak for water!
We educate the public!
We need YOUR help!
West Texas water is in trouble.
We need to work together to conserve our water for us,
and our future!
Come along with us to explore ways to save our water.
The Institute for Museum and Library Services has recently featured Art/Science Fusion as their project profile for June! The Center for Creative Energy is
gaining some national attention for our creative approach to interdisciplinary learning and collaboration. Check out our profile here: IMLS June Profile.
Please keep visiting the blog to keep up with our summer programs Aqua Squad and Camp Odyssey. We will feature posts from students, SAISD educators, and other special guests in the next few months. Learning is a fantastic journey, you should join us!
Lillian and I (Meg) just returned from the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas. Amid the heat and humidity, there were some amazing ideas and creative brainstorming about how museums might serve society in the future. The theme this year was “The Museum of Tomorrow”. Below are some big questions to answer as 21st century progresses.
What can happen at a museum?
Well, here at SAMFA we canoe, practice Tai Chi, partner for river clean ups, and host egg parachuting competitions in addition to talking about and making artworks. Our willingness to imagine our institution as a physically and mentally active place is part of a larger trend among museums defining new ways to engage with and promote a healthy and happy community. The following link shows some interesting examples of creative things museums are doing with outdoor, physical community engagement:
Do museums improve society?
Most people would probably answer yes to this question. But the nature of that role is evolving to include more than just the preservation and interpretation of our cultural heritage. In fact, I would like to change that question to read: How do museums serve the community? Museums still love and care deeply for their objects, but currently more and more museums are beginning to use this caring nature to serve both local and global communities in ways that change lives. The Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens initiative is one example of this because it focuses on helping children and families lead active and healthy lifestyles.
Our partnership with the San Angelo Independent School District and the Upper Colorado River Authority, called the Center for Creative Energy, takes this role seriously. The quality of life for those living in the Concho Valley is at the heart of our mission. The programs we develop aren’t just about exposing kids to art and injecting science content into a museum visit. Instead, it’s about inspiring our youth to consider pressing environmental issues facing our river and community, and then preparing them to solve those problems in the future.
How will Museums and Schools work together in order to serve learners?
Looking at art in a museum is such an ingrained given. That will always be an important part of what we do, but how can we take looking and talking about art to and make it part of a good life? How can we take what an education does for a child to a level where we don’t just teach content, but also a way of living? How can museums and schools foster student curiosity, inspire a love for discovery, and instill a sense of responsibility and caring for themselves and their community? Museums and schools share the same communities, so partnerships to develop socially engaged programming seems natural.
I talk about this subject all the time, I know. But I truly believe that one of the greatest challenges education faces over the next twenty years isn’t content mastery or low test scores. Instead the challenge is about shaping people’s lives. If someone loves to learn, if they are truly inspired by discovery and feel a deep sense of community engagement, would scoring well on a test be as difficult? What if our goal wasn’t to teach students to learn, but to live?
Summer is here, and many of you are probably thinking about vacation. So, I’ll step down from my soapbox and just leave you with this:
Did you inspire someone to live this year? Will you do so next year? How?
Here’s a nice little entry I found about talking with kids about art. Hint: It could work for adults, too! You can always try it in our galleries here at SAMFA over the summer!
Summer is almost here, and as I found myself researching for our upcoming Summer for Kids curriculum, I stumbled upon this archived article about an elementary school in the D.C. area: Leonardo’s Curriculum
It was published in the late nineties, but I really liked the idea at the heart of this article(and really at the heart of Leonardo’s life) which is living to learn. Discovery, imagination, science, art and many other disciplines connect in ways that not only make for a dynamic learning experience, but also a more meaningful life.
Does anyone have any other examples of quality interdisciplinary curriculum like this one they could share? If you’re an educator, how do you connect themes, topics, and different disciplines in your own curriculum design?
Thanks for being such a great group of 2nd graders! Here’s a special message from the staff at the Center for Creative Energy! Have a safe and fun summer, everyone!
Last month, March 9th -11th, I was fortunate to be able to attend the IMLS sponsored WebWise conference in Baltimore, Maryland. A signature initiative of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the WebWise Conference annually brings together representatives of museums, libraries, archives, systems science, education, and other fields to explore the many opportunities made possible by digital technologies. The focal topic this year was Science, Technology, Engineering + Math (STEM) in Education, Learning, and Research. I was amazed by the variety of projects related to STEM learning happening around the country.
I particularly enjoyed hearing Dr. Milton Chen speak. Dr. Chen is the former executive director, now senior fellow, with the George Lucas Foundation and Edutopia. Dr. Chen reflected on President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This campaign includes not only efforts sponsored by the Federal Government but also those promoted by leading companies, foundations, non-profits, and science and engineering societies. Libraries and museums are leading partners in this national effort, making significant contributions to both formal education and informal learning in the STEM disciplines. A significant trend in library- and museum-sponsored informal learning, especially in STEM-related fields, has been the support of social constructivist activities where youth learn through group investigation and creation. Dr. Chen also emphasized the the value of creativity and community involvement in STEM education.
Additionally, I found the session Friday morning to be very relevant to our work here at SAMFA. Speakers friday talked about STEM, Arts and Humanities: Intersections and Inspiration. Essentially, what moderator Tom Scheinfeldt and panelists Chris Wildrick, Fred Gibbsand Michael Benson discussed was that years of Science and Technology Studies have exposed the STEM disciplines not as disembodied fonts on knowledge but as deeply social and cultural processes. Just as society at large is influenced by the insights and inventions of scientists and engineers, those insights and inventions are shaped by the influence of culture. In recent years, museum and library professionals and scienists alike have come to embrace the complex symbiotic relationship between science and culture to the benefit of both groups’ work. They highlighted examples of crossover projects that have brought librarians, museum professionals, humanists, artists, scientists, and engineers together to explore the productive tensions between science, technology, society, and culture.
If you would like to get the whole content experience, IMLS has a web archive of all the speakers that can be found at this link: WebWise 2011 archive
I strongly urge you to explore the content from this conference. There are brilliant minds and content that await you!
Hi Everyone! Lillian just brought this awesome webinar to my attention. Sounds like a great opportunity to discuss the importance of programs like Art/Science Fusion. Best of all it’s free! I will definitly be participating.
Shades of Green: Developing Artistic Approaches to Environmental Education
Thursday April 7, 2011, 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. EST
Presenter: Hilary Inwood
This webinar explores the emerging field of eco-art education, an integration of art education and environmental education, as a means of helping to develop environmental literacy in students and teachers. Hilary will introduce artwork and artists focusing on environmental issues in Canada and beyond, as well as some of the eco-art work that has been created in Toronto schools in recent years. Participants will be invited to share their own ideas and projects for creative approaches to EE.
Age appropriateness: K-12
Hilary Inwood is a Lecturer in the Initial Teacher Education program at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She holds degrees in education (M.Ed, University of Toronto), art history (MA, York University) and art education (Ph.D), Concordia University. Her research focuses on integrating art education with environmental education to develop learners’ environmental literacy in school and community settings. Her work as an educator and artist extends beyond the classroom to include school gardens, outdoor education centres, parks and galleries.
To sign up for this event, go to: http://greenteacherwebinarinwood.eventbrite.com
Lillian and I just returned from the National Art Education Association national convention in Seattle, Washington. While there we shared Art/Science Fusion with museum and school educators from around the nation, and came home feeling confident that this program is aligning positively with the national conversation about education. There were lots of discussions about collaboration, making interdisciplinary connections in our curriculum, and about what skills young learners will need as they progress into the 21st century. What was most apparent to me is that educators have to keep pushing at boundaries and barriers in order to make real progress in education. Below are some inspiring highlights from our trip.
Neukon Vivarium, an installation located in the middle of Seattle, is a dead Hemlock tree sustaining an entire ecosystem as if it had been left in the forest to decay. The work is stunning in the middle of the city, as is the immense effort it takes fo r humans to recreate the conditions necessary for this natural process to happen in an urban area. The ecosystem in this artificial space thrives because it is constantly cared for by a staff in totally stable conditions within a custom built greenhouse. Think of how the earth could continue to thrive if we cared for it as carefully as this work (which happens to be part of the collection at the Seattle Art Museum)! Think of how the earth might thrive if we simply left it alone.
Are either of these options a possibility? What role do humans play in sustaining and destroying the environment? What is our place in nature? These questions are important points of departure for our programs at the Center for Creative Energy.
Education in the next century: 21st Century Skills
With technology, digital media, and science changing rapidly it becomes more pressing everyday to ensure that students are coming away from their school years as adaptable, creative, and critical thinking citizens. A vast number of educators have expressed their concerns with No Child Left Behind and the emphasis that legislation places upon standardized testing at the expense of meaningful learning. As that legislation comes up for re-authorization educators must be prepared to articulate what we envision education to be, and what policies will best help us to make those visions a reality.
An interesting advocacy initiative called 21st Century Skills re-imagines what knowledge and abilities are necessary to live successfully in the 21st century. 21st Century Skills places equal emphasis on building factual knowledge and on developing creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills. This approach is exciting because it prompts us to think about education from a fresh perspective. Think about this:
How could we help children develop creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills through our curriculum?
How would doing so change the way we approach curriculum design?
These are just some of the questions that were floating around in my mind as I wandered Puget Sound. Now that I am back in San Angelo, it’s time put these questions to work by developing quality programs for our students.
In the next few weeks we’ll be focusing more on education policy, as well as keeping you updated with what’s happening with Art/Science Fusion! As always, comments, new ideas, and suggestions are welcome.
This week I’ve been thinking a lot about collaboration, especially after a successful bout of Art/Science Fusion. Lillian’s post about STEM to STEAM led me to consider how important it is for educators to find common ground between disciplines so that the strengths of each can create a dynamic learning experience for students.
The big questions we ask ourselves here at the Center for Creative Energy while we develop curriculum are:
How do art and science connect?
How can these connections help our students create?
Create what? Artworks, inventions, new ideas, ground breaking research, a new museum exhibition? The challenge here is to successfully collaborate without using one discipline as just a tool to teach about the other. The UCRA and SAMFA try to meet this challenge through our programs, but it often takes some creative collaboration to make sure students are participating in a truly interdisciplinary program.
There is a lot of discussion about how the arts help students build observation skills, recognize and invent patterns, and to imagine and think creatively. These arguments are usually designed to stress how important the arts are to scientific progress. This argument is less commonly reversed to argue that scientific progress also leads to great art. However, I don’t believe education is only about teaching one subject for the benefit of another.
In education policy, as Lillian noted, disciplines that will advance our future economic viability garnish the most attention. Although I agree with Piro that the arts contribute significantly to that viability, the idealist in me wants a comprehensive education to be more than just the road to riches or a comfortable middle class life.
What if STEAM was about ensuring students become creative, engaged, thoughtful and empathetic citizens with a broad understanding of what makes up our world both physically and culturally?
I understand this last sentence is rather mushy, and dodges the meaty politics that ensue when defining education policy. Developing education policy has proven to be an arduous collaboration between many stakeholders with competing interests.
However, collaboration is defined as a group of people or institutions working together towards a common goal. So in the interest of inspiration, I would like to pose one last question:
As educators committed to interdisciplinary learning through STEAM, what are our common goals for our students?
You may be wondering about the conversations and motivations for developing the Center for Creative Energy and its associated programs. While Megan DiRienzo has written about the Museum’s local motivations, I would like to introduce a few of the larger conversations that continue to be influential in the development of our work and its context in the U.S. education conversation. Here’s a quick introduction to STEM and STEAM, and next time I’ll expand on their direct relevance to the Center for Creative Energy.
Nationally, many educational institutions, research organizations and foundations responded to the alarming reports of U.S. students’ declining performance in STEM subjects when compared to international students by re-evaluating curriculum and programming for its ability to reinforce deeper and more meaningful STEM learning. For the unacquainted, the acronym STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. According to both the United States National Research Council and the National Science Foundation, the fields are collectively considered core technological underpinnings of an advanced society. In both political and academic forums the strength of the STEM workforce is viewed as an indicator of a nation’s ability to sustain itself. Most recently, President Obama launched the Educate to Innovate initiative to support STEM education in K-12 schools.
As the national conversations about the need for STEM curriculum pushed schools, universities, museums and other educationalinstitutions to shift their processes, an urgent voice emerged. Dr. Joseph Piro urged educators to adopt an A for arts in the STEM acronym. Essentially, Piro (and others) argued that the arts have held a traditionally marginalized place in both American society and the school curriculum. This de-emphasis of the importance of arts education is
upended by a 2008 study from the National Endowment for the Arts, “Artists in the Workforce,” This study showed that artists make up a larger occupational group than lawyers, medical doctors, or agricultural workers. The size of the artistic community gives it an astonishing $70 billion aggregate annual income. The country’s $316 billion communication and entertainment business employs a diverse range of artists, most of whom prepared for their careers by participating in some sort of arts education program. This massive economic contribution to the U.S. economy alone should provide the case for support of arts education, argued Piro.
The STEM/STEAM conversation has motivated our thinking and curriculum approaches to the Center for Creative Energy. The conversation (and debate) continues amongst politicians, educators and other stakeholders. In my next post, I will share more about the converging paths of STEM and STEAM.
This week, many of our Art/Science Fusion 2nd graders put the finishing touches on their landscapes. The children spent three weeks on their artworks. During the first week, they completed pencil sketches of their landscapes. The next week they masked off everything they wanted white, and laid out broad washes of color. During their final week in the studio, they added details with smaller brushes, speckled, and used sea salt to add texture.
Watercolor artists will create quick watercolor paintings en plein air (a French phrase meaning in open air, which is most commonly associated with French Impressionists who, obsessed with light, loved to paint outdoors), or over time in the studio. Walt Davis, whose work the students looked at on their gallery tour, paints en plein air while traveling and creates larger works back home in his studio. All of Josephine Oliver’s works were created en plein air during her trips to to west Texas in the 1920s and 1930s. If your students don’t remember these works, check out the All About Texas Tour Ppt. for a refresher!
Here is a great video of an artist doing a watercolor sketch. Please feel free to share this with your students. Do they recognize any familiar techniques?
What a wonderful way to start our Art/Science Fusion! As the “science person” in this venture (I am Christy… at the UCRA Water Education Center), I just love bringing in all of this art at every opportunity.
We managed to integrate not only science and art, but also geography and Texas history in this first round of sessions. Texas is simply just so huge! That means that the waterways that serve as our borders have some very different ecosystems! Our 2nd graders became “Eco Region Experts” and sorted images of different plants and animals and presented these to the whole group. These regions were based on those waterways that serve as our borders: Rio Grande River, Red River, Sabine River and the Gulf Coast. As students explored sketching and watercolors, they learned what it meant for artists to be inspired by their surroundings. The humid Sabine River with bald cypress trees and alligators looks very different from the Rio Grande River as it runs through the Big Bend area of Texas. After learning about these different ecoregions of Texas, the students could decide which one truly inspired them.
After our long journey around the borders of Texas, I was ready to head straight for the Gulf Coast for a relaxing time on the beach hanging out with dolphins and sandpiper birds! I am pretty sure our 2nd graders were too!
San Angelo had a crazy snow/ice storm last week, so Art/Science Fusion readjusted scheduling to make sure that SAISD 2nd graders still get the most from the program. Christy and I (Meg) shared a couple of sessions, and it got me thinking about how important water is to this program.
One of our major themes and goals for the Center of Creative Energy is to connect the curriculum to water. For the All About Texas Art/Science Fusion curriculum we use water in a couple of ways:
1. We’re using watercolor. Okay, a bit literal, I know…BUT Walt Davis, who is featured in the All About Texas exhibition at SAMFA, created beautiful watercolor paintings to document the journey he and his wife took around the edges of Texas. Our 2nd graders are learning some basic techniques like masking, washing, and dry brushing to create watercolor postcards of the Texas landscape. At the end of the program, the kids will exchange their postcards along with a letter sharing their thoughts about their time at the Museum and Water Education Center.
2. We’re focusing on how water (in the form of rivers and an ocean basin) helps create the shape of Texas. This naturally leads to a great discussion about how ecologically diverse Texas is. Texas has 7 ecologically unique regions featuring deserts, swamps, canyons, prairies, and beaches.
Why does Texas have such an awesome terrain? Because different amounts and kinds of water (salt vs. fresh) can create different ecosystems and landforms. Of course, Texas being really, really big helps a lot!
As we continue to teach this program, we hope that students are starting to think about the important role both water and art play in their lives.
If you have a moment with your students, ask them why water is important. Then, feel free to share those responses in the comment section below.
Well, the first week of Art/Science Fusion has come to an end, and the All About Texas Road Trip Tour was lots of fun. Below is a PDF of the tour outline, a PowerPoint presentation of the featured artworks, and some photos of our “trip” so you can get a feel for the week.
We would love for educators to use this tour in their own classrooms, especially if your students are learning about Texas, different art mediums, or plant life and animal habitats.
Also, it’s a great exhibition, so if you can’t make it out to San Angelo to see it, you can save some gas and view it in the download (although art in real life is ALWAYS better…)
If you do use these resources, we would love to hear your feedback and any creative uses or new ideas you may have added. Feel free to post below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first group of Art/Science second graders just got on the bus to return to Santa Rita Elementary School. I expected to feel exhausted, but I actually feel energized! Who knew that 3,000 + mile trip around Texas with 20 second graders could be so awesome?
We took a “road trip” tour across the state of Texas in the All About Texas exhibition (don’t worry, we wore seat belts). To keep ourselves occupied on journey, we chatted about artist materials, scale, and what the weather might feel like if we able to step into one of Mary Baxter‘s beautiful oil paintings, or perhaps join Josephine Oliver on one of her fantastic summer art making trips.
At the end of the tour, we did a little sketching of our own. Below are some wonderful drawings the students created. Later this month they will be adding color and detail using watercolor.
Stay tuned for updates about on student progress. Next week the students will visit Ms. Christy at the Water Education Center to learn about the science that makes the Texas landscape unique!
Welcome to the Center for Creative Energy! We are stationed in San Angelo, Texas on the banks of the Concho River prepared and excited to kick off a great year of Art and Science programming for San Angelo students.
Monday is the first session of our Art/Science Fusion program. Santa Rita will tour the new All About Texas exhibition and experiment with some basic sketching techniques.
Our staff will be updating this site as the 2011 Center for Creative Energy programs get underway. You can learn more about what the Center for Creative Energy offers in the About Us section.
Be sure to visit later this week to see photos and updates about the tour! We’ll also be posting lesson plans, art/science musings, and entries from guest contributors as the year progresses.