Bringing science and art to area students

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With many events canceled due to the pandemic, two very important program​s continued last fall: Saturday Science ​Quest for Kids and Saturday Art ​School at the IU School of Education. The programs took place over six Saturdays, mixing in-person and online classes as needed and allowing children in grades K-6 to learn from School of Education students – and each other.

Saturday Science gave children the opportunities to take a deep dive into science topics and formulate questions, do hands-on science experiments, and act like scientists and engineers through lessons on water systems, weather and climate and force and motion, among others.

Saturday Art classes​, coordinated by Lara Lackey, Associate Professor of Art Education, explored lessons around the theme “Connections,” with classes that were inspired by artists representing diverse populations. Students began with about 10 minutes of free sketchbook drawing, then would move to a story or artworks to talk about, providing information about the subject, instruction about design concepts and inspiration for ideas. A demonstration of materials and techniques and time when children could explore the materials would follow, with an open-ended art activity and sharing session ending the class.

These types of programs ... provide opportunities outside of formal school learning for children to learn to answer questions, explain phenomenon and activate aspects of their learner identity that is often not given the time to be nurtured in the traditional classroom.

Meredith Park Rogers

While classes had to vary between online and in-person due to pandemic restrictions, both students and instructors alike learned from each other. With safety precautions in place, the programs offered School of Education pre-service teachers a precious opportunity COVID-19 had taken: the chance for in-person instruction. 

“Now more than ever, our IU students and the children of our community need a safe place to grow, ask questions and explore,” said Meredith Park Rogers, Associate Professor of Science Education and Faculty Supervisor for the ​Saturday Science program. “For the teachers, we hope to offer an opportunity for ‘real’ teaching with kids in a time when this ​is halted due to COVID safety precautions. We want to offer ​elementary preservice teachers and other education students in the School of Education at IU a chance to hone their craft of teaching and not have to wait until they graduate.”

Students will again have that opportunity this spring, with ​the two programs—Saturday Science and ​Saturday Art—​joining forces to offer an integrated, in-person only program that will run all four Saturdays in April, and again with all COVID safety protocols in place. While lessons are still being finalized, organizers hope to use the outdoors as much as possible.

“These types of programs are important because they help to build connections between the University and its local community,” Park Rogers said. “It also helps to provide opportunities outside of formal school learning for children to learn to answer questions, explain phenomenon and activate aspects of their learner identity that is often not given the time to be nurtured in the traditional classroom. We hope children who attend the program will begin to see the beauty around them and learn the science behind the amazing wonders of our natural world as they study the two disciplines together.”

Registration for the spring session of Saturday Science and Art is now open to K-6 students and will close March 31.

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