Studies show that a curriculum that integrates arts with other subjects is more effective. The students of Logan High School put these studies into action when science and art departments combined forces, creating a ceramic mural on the outside wall of the school. Visiting artist Nan Kitchens from Florida, who helped with the creation and design of the mural, said, “When we have ceramics students doing these kinds of murals, that’s a whole different experience. But if we plug in the biology students, they’re learning from the ceramics students, and the ceramics students are learning biology from them and it becomes this integrated lesson. Any time you integrate a lesson with art, you have better retention.” The mural sits on an outside wall in the back of Logan High, right next to the canal the mural represents. Each of the mural’s four panels depicts one of the seasons and shows animals and plants that the students observed around the canal, from bats and squirrels to fish. Lee Burningham’s art classes teamed up with Erik Bates’ science classes for the project. Every Wednesday class period during the 2009-2011 school year, Burningham would take his art students outside behind the school and have them draw the canal. This project gave the students artistic challenges, like how to draw ice crystals on a tree branch in winter using pencil and paper. Bates also took his science students behind the school to study the wildlife. Burningham’s and Bates’ students observed weather, plants and the different animals that were found in the area, taking notes of their discoveries. “They’re watching and they’re recording every week what the changes are, and what the footprints are that they see out here, what critter’s crawling around,” Burningham said. Later, Kitchen and Burningham worked together to make a sketch of the murals from the students’ drawings and observations. They also found the perfect location for the final product and decided how to properly integrate the mural with the building’s structure. Then it was time to put the plan into action. Last October, Bates’ students met up with Burningham’s students and the two groups worked together to produce the mural. Besides getting art students involved in science and vice versa, the project benefited students by getting them involved in a lasting, cooperative project that they’ll remember. “We had some kids that never came to class until we did this project,” he said. “Then they never missed a day, and then the excitement was over and they never came to class again, but during that time there was this magical connection where they didn’t miss a heartbeat. They didn’t miss a second. They went out of their way to make sure they were involved.” Burningham has ideas for more of these integrated projects in the near future, hoping to get classes in other subjects, maybe even math, involved. He already has his eyes set on a section of wall between the cafeteria and art classrooms. – email@example.com
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