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Creativity, color, enthusiasm bring mathematical concepts, art history to life

February 15, 2001|By KELLY RAUSCH, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — Students at Myron D. Witter Elementary School here used creativity, color and enthusiasm to discover mathematical concepts and art history through artistic endeavors of their own.

The school, which serves students in kindergarten through third grade, had two separate art-based activities to educate children Wednesday.

Representatives from the Lawrence Hall of Science of the University of California, Berkeley hosted a hands-on Art of Math Festival for second- and third-grade students.

The Lawrence Hall of Science is "a hands-on math and science museum where students can come and play with and manipulate different experiments," explained Gio Giordano, a science educator with Lawrence Hall.

"We do outreach programs that extend that concept to other schools," Giordano said.

Spread between a dozen or so work stations in the cafeteria, kids were working Wednesday on different art projects with mathematic lessons hidden beneath the fun surface.

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Austyn Valdez, 7, leaned close to the table, tilting her head to the side in concentration as she colors squares on her paper with bright crayons. The quilt pattern she completed taught her how to use a grid.

Across the table, kids twisted, curled and bent strips of construction paper to make paper sculptures and develop their concepts of three-dimensional reasoning.

One student asked a parent volunteer if he should make what he saw in the example piece on the table. She told him to use his imagination and personalize his own creation.

"To be able to watch them play and learn at the same time is very rewarding for me," Giordano said.

Participating is just as rewarding for students.

Crystal Garcia, 8, said she liked the art of math festival because she enjoys doing new things and "because we get to go to all the stations."

Among this second-grader's favorite art projects were a paper hat and three-dimensional greeting card.

"Learning how to make them was fun," Crystal said.

Across campus in the first-grade classrooms, students learned about famous artists such as Degas and Picasso before trying their own hands at artistic genius by imitating those celebrated styles.

As kids rotated through room 36 (aka Mrs. Thompson's room), they learned about early 20th-century artist Paul Klee and his imaginative, colorful paintings.

Kids then used Klee's 1925 work "The Golden Fish" as inspiration for their own underwater crayon and watercolor masterpieces.

Austin Mendoza, 7, was in the middle of drawing a treasure chest on the ocean floor when asked what it contained.

"Money and demons," he answered, eyes shining.

"And a cat. You should put a cat," suggested Austin's friend, fellow first-grader Richard Felix.

Apparently Wednesday's art lesson sparked a bit of the art critic in Austin.

"They're very good because of the light colors and dark colors and the good painting," he said of Klee's works.

Along with teachers and aides, parents helped kids with their projects.

Sandi Hamilton, who has a son in first grade at Witter, offered suggestions to students in Thompson's class and kept a wet sponge ready to clean any accidents.

"It's really fun because you get to see all the kids' different interpretations," Hamilton said.

"I think it's a great project because it introduces the kids to a lot of new aspects of art," she added.

Staff Writer Kelly Rausch can be reached at 337-3442.

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