Environmental Art With 8th Graders

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I am enjoying a rare moment of quiet during a week of amazing, hands-on, integrated, outdoor education with my 8th graders from Medomak Middle School. Each year we take the entire 8th grade class to the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park for this incredible adventure. The National Park Service offers a 3-day, 2-night program for students. You can learn about about the program at the Schoodic Adventure Education webpage.

Part of the program is designed by our staff. This year we had the students emulate the art of Andy Goldsworthy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TWBSMc47bw or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBcdL8uO71E&feature=related).

Ashley Wilson and Nicole Nicolls with sculpture at Schoodic Education Adventures

Our students created sculptures using materials found in nature, then photographed the sculpture and themselves with it, and sketched the sculptures.

In keeping with the Park Service mission of leaving no trace, the students dismantled their sculptures and returned the materials to the original locations. They will create books with the photographs, sketches, and a sensory poem upon returning to school.

Sculpture by Lexi Genthner and Olivia Ryan at Schoodic Education Adventures

It is so gratifying to watch students become entranced with creating art in the natural world. The power of this medium has opened their eyes to the importance of caring for our world, as well as caring for each other.

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2 Responses to “Environmental Art With 8th Graders”

  1. Jill Spencer Says:

    What a wonderful experience for your students! I’m jealous–would love to participate in something like this event. Thank you for posting, Chris!

    • Christina deGroff Says:

      It is always a truly amazing experience. And not just the obvious learning through the curriculum. The kids have to negotiate living in a dorm-like setting, eating together, adjusting to unpredictable people and weather conditions, and soooo much more. Those “unmeasurable” learnings that happen at Schoodic are often the most valuable.
      The art unit is so developmentally appropriate for 8th graders. They form strong connections to themselves and their environment. It’s magical to watch 13 and 14 year olds totally engrossed in creating sculptures for 2 hours.

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