Center for Creative Energy


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Teacher Resources category.

Art Science Fusion: Get Creative with Art and Science

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!

 

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Haiku from San Angelo

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:

Trees

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

Wood-wax-metal-sticks

Hard bumpy sculpture, black

Hangs from the ceiling

Stone

by Ms. Garcia’s 2nd grade class at Belaire Elementary

Stones are hard, smooth, flat

Colorful, bumpy, rocky

Stones make solid walls

 

 

 

 

 

Rainstorms

by Ms. Oakley’s 2nd grade class at Belaire Elementary

Rainstorms, hail, water

Tornado–destruction, car!

Loud scary thunder

 

 

 

Clay

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 Art/Science Fusion

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 megan@samfa.org. 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.


Gallons and gallons of trees?

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.

Students talking about lithographs from SAMFA's Early Texas Art collection.

Christy shows some desert survivors during her session about adaptation.

Students learn to create linoleum prints with Bekah in the Education Studio.

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.

A work in progress. Soon it will have lights and ornaments with important water usage factoids.

What are they building in there? Something pretty AWESOME!


Lithography

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!


Do High Test Scores Really Help?

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!

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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!


Museums of Tomorrow

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.

students practicing Tai Chi during the Art of Nature program last year

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:

Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens

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.

a student showing off his prototype for a highway cleanup solution during Art/Science Fusion

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?


Learning with Leonardo

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?


Farewell Art/Science Fusion Spring 2011

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!


Reflecting on WebWise 2011: STEM in Education, Learning, and Research

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.

Dr. Milton Chen's presentation at WebWise 2011


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!


Environmental Education Webinar

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


Connecting Art and Science for the 21st Century

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.

Artists as Thinkers and Collaborators: Mark Dion’s Neukon Vivarium

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.


Creative Collaborations

Student learning through Art/Science Fusion

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?




Watercolor

SAISD second graders laying down washes

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?

 

en plein air

First Week Highlights

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…)

All_About_Texas_Road Trip Tour Guide

All About Texas Tour Ppt.

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 megan@samfa.org.

chatting about Mary Baxter's work

sketching a view of the Concho River



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