How this Tucson school is using art and poetry to teach science

students learning to paint with watercolors

Each student in Betsey Robinson's second-grade class had a different interpretation of Tucson's mountains — round, pointy, big and small in colors like blue, purple, green, orange and brown.

That's what thinking like an artist is all about. 

"It's not what you see when you take a photograph, but what you see in your artist's eye that makes a difference," says artist, Marty Plevel, as she demonstrates how to paint with watercolors.

Agua Caliente Elementary School students were learning how to create a watercolor landscape as part of Pima County's Living River of Words contest. The aim of the project is to educate students about watersheds and wetlands and have them express what they learned through poetry and art.

"Living River of Words is an awesome STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) project that integrates learning about riparian areas and our unique desert with field studies," Robinson said. "They're painting desert landscapes and integrating their knowledge on riparian areas and watersheds. It's really super cool."

Agua Caliente has participated in the project in the past, but this year, for the first time, they were able to pay an artist and a poet to work with all three second-grade classes thanks to a $1,000 artist residency grant from CommunityShare, an education initiative that connects schools with community partners, grants and educational programming. 

See accompanying photographs and read more here:

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