Center for Creative Energy

Camp Odyssey: Where the Water Flows!

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.

Hannah looking for critters on the South Concho

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!

It was then on to our area lakes! Our sources of water…and some of them hardly had any.  O.C. Fisher Reservoir, once full of water, was nothing more than a wasteland. We trekked through a sea of dead fish and cracked lake-bottom in the above 100 degree heat and finally reached a small pool of reddish water.  Scattered dead gar were everywhere. The red water turned out to be bacteria that thrive in low-oxygen water and we were pretty sure we didn’t want to jump in for a swim. This part of the journey really hit home for everyone. The drought was real and the fact that we live in a desert doesn’t help the situation. Check out the national coverage OC Fisher’s blood red pool

This is what was left of O.C. Fisher Reservoir.

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:

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!

Henry shows us the compost from the Wastewater Plant. The water and the "sludge" are recycled! Amazing!

All we have to say about Camp Odyssey is “Whoa!! Now that was a journey!” We sure hope you come along next summer…. 

What a nice vision for our lakes! This is one of the murals the campers created.

Aqua Squad: ENGAGE!

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.

Good Design! Emily and Anyssa created a board about the elements and principles of design using recycled materials. They also changed the old fashioned color wheel into a color wave!

Inspiration from Chicago! Anne Marie, Ruby, and Will designed a board to highlight the most inspirational museums in Chicago. The font in all three inspiration boards came from their experience marking storm drains this summer with the UCRA. See the gallery below for pictures of that.

Jugs and jugs and jugs! Addison and Ethan designed this board to show how much water we use, but also how much waste we throw into our rivers. Later this board will be revamped into an awesome exhibition component and educational loan kit for schools! Note Will being held hostage by a pirate with a microphone in the upper corner. Awesome!

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!

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Flood and Drought: Art Science Fusion gets Serious (but we’re still fun!)

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!

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