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West Jordan Journal

Art, math, science create a complete picture of learning

Jul 07, 2023 11:52AM ● By Jet Burnham

Lorelai, a kindergartener, proudly shows the turtle she made from clay while learning about animal habitats. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

Art has some surprising real-world applications, said Angela Garside, arts integration specialist at Oquirrh Elementary.

“Origami principles have been used to help in the space program to get things up into space and have helped in the medical field when they do some of their surgeries to make things smaller and then unfold and be larger inside so they don't have a big incision,” Garside said.

Garside works with elementary students to provide artistic exploration of concepts they learn in the classroom. Origami is just one art application.

Some of the projects she plans begin with art and then integrate with the curriculum. Sixth grade students were allotted 100 beads to create an art piece. They applied math skills to calculate the percentages of each color they used.

Other projects begin as an academic lesson and then become art. Second graders learned about physical changes for their science curriculum by melting plastic cups. They had colored a design on them first, so that when they melted, the final products looked like blown glass bowls.

 Fourth grade teacher Jessica Burraston said Garside uses a variety of elements of art to engage the students in learning.

“She’s really good at reinforcing what we’re doing in the classroom but also making it creative,” she said. Her students created 3D topographic maps of Utah with clay, which helped them better visualize and understand the various terrains they’d been learning about.

Fourth grade teacher Tori Davie said kids learn from and enjoy the hands-on activities.

“It allows them to express themselves creatively, as opposed to just sitting in the classroom,” Davie said.

This year, students experimented and learned with clay, paint, paper, watercolors and plastic. Their final products were displayed at the Annual Family Arts Night held at the end of the school year.

“My goal is just to give the students the opportunity to show their family or the community what they have done, take some pride in ownership in the work that they've been doing and learning, and share that with the community,” Garside said. “They love to see their art and to be able to share something that they've done that they feel proud of.”

Lorelai, a kindergartener, was excited to see the clay turtle she made, its shell textured by the sole of her shoe, displayed at the art show along with the picture she drew of its habitat.

“It makes me happy and proud,” she said. λ