Center for Creative Energy


Category Archive

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

Aqua Squad Dives into Exhibit Design

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.

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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!

 


Fond memories of San Diego

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!
Aqua Squad


Filtration Ponds a big hit in Drought Cities by Joe Navarro

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

This filtration pond helps to keep the water clean from bacteria and nutrients.

resource…water.  For more information on how to conserve water tune in for more Aqua Squad updates.


Bring the River Back!

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! 

 

A man on the Old Mission Dam. This was built in 1816!

 

 

Julia was attacked from above by this owl! (Just kidding, it was in the Visitor’s Center)

Here is a patch of Birds Beak on the dunes where the river meets the ocean…an endangered plant!

At La Jolla Beach. Andreas likes jumping rope with sea weed!

We buried Diamond. (she deserved it!)


California Comparison: Water Here and There

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San Angelo filtration ponds


ZOO in One!

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 saw pandas! Zoo staff think that Yanzi may be pregnant!

This is a picture of an awesome a polar bear that we saw on our private tour. This photo was taken by Andreas.

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!


On the Hunt for Great Photographs

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

Taking a photo from a worm’s eye view gives the audience the feeling that something is bigger and more important than the viewer.

A Bird’s Eye View

A bird’s eye view makes people feel as if they are larger and more important than what the photograph portrays.

The Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is when you move the camera so the subject is off center by either 1 or 2 thirds. This helps the audience focus on one subject while also showing how the background ties to the main subject of the photo.

Line & Shape

This photo uses line and shape to help lead your eye around the composition.

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!

Our new friend James showing us how to print our photos in MOPA’s amazing library.

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!

 


Saving the Sailing Seas with Exhibit Design

Think these are real surgeons? Nope! They are just wax figures showing what life was like on the USS Midway.

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…


Apply for Aqua Squad!

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: https://artmuseumscience.wordpress.com/aqua-squad/

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Where in the World is Nature?

Cotton is so cool! Literally.

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.

Sorting the products


Lloyd Blanks

Lloyd Blanks

What materials did Lloyd Blanks use to create this artwork? Find out on our 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!


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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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  http://www.livescience.com/15346-texas-lake-blood-red.html

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: 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!

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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