Arts Council receives STEAM grant for art in the schools

The Pocahontas County Arts Council received a $7,500 STEAM grant from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. The Arts Council’s matching amount was $3,000.

This money is being used for a STEAM Based Art program that is being offered to all public schools in Pocahontas County. The STEAM acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, ART and Mathematics. Art is the newest added component.

Art-based activities inspire creativity. Students use art and creativity in STEM programming – they just don’t always realize it. A good example is the design elements used in presenting ideas at the Science Fair.

The Arts Council has developed a program using diverse art experiences that emphasize the various ways science and art are combined. For example, in a science class, students would learn the parts of an eye and how the eye functions. In an art class they learn the same parts of the eye by learning how to draw an eye. They also learn the ways that pencils are used to shade, so that a drawn eye looks like a real one.

Concepts such as how to use a pencil or how colors work with each other are part of the programming that allows students to develop their artistic understanding of design that is used in all fields in the 21st century. From the development of a color scheme for camouflage clothing to the placement of the power button on our phones, we are all affected daily by art and science, design and technology.

The reduction of Art classes in Pocahontas County Schools was brought to the attention of the Arts Council by various members of the community. The Arts Council has always made provisions in its budget to aid art teachers and to bring outside programming into the various schools. Each year the Arts Council works to bring programming into each school in the area as either an after-school or in-class experience for the students. This year with a contribution from Liquid Mind Media and the usual money set aside for art teacher supplies, the council had begun to expand its programming for the schools when the grant application was suggested.

The programming had been developed for a different grant that had not been awarded. The work was already done and was easily rearranged to fit the guidelines for the STEAM grant.

The classes are varied and involve both regular school personnel such as Diana Nelson, Alison Flegel Sofrit, Peggy Owens and Laura M. Pritt as well as visiting artists Cynthia Gurreri, Cris Bartlett, Margaret Baker and Cheryl Beverage. There are approximately 61 classes divided between the various schools with middle school and elementary schools averaging 11 different projects per school. The high school, with its own programming, is receiving a smaller part of the program tailored to the high school student’s needs.

Art from these projects is on display in various windows throughout Marlinton, Cass and Durbin. Hillsboro has artwork on display in the art classroom. Many of the projects will be on display May 7 at the Woman’s Club’s “Evening with the Arts.”

One project is also involved in a contest to be judged for the proposed Children’s’ Art Trail. The winners of that contest will be announced at the “Evening with the Arts.”

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