News Column

STEM students horsing around

September 3, 2014

By Joseph Pratt, The Portsmouth Daily Times, Ohio

Sept. 03--Portsmouth STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Academy is proving they are more than just a school of the ever-growing popular STEM curriculum, but also an institution that values the arts.

When Portsmouth Academy Board of Education President Francesca Hartop began the planning process of the new school, she knew she wanted to incorporate the community through arts education and other various outlets.

Students in the inaugural class began their art lessons at the Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center (SOMACC) within the past few weeks, focusing on the basics of drawing. They put these new skills to the test this week with life drawing courses being taught using real life horses, compliments of museum educator Emily Uldrich.

Charlotte Gordon, artistic director of SOMACC and Portsmouth Academy board members, is just one museum staff member who has helped build the curriculum for these new, innovative and involved art classes.

The classes are broken down into eight different lessons. The first lesson involves shapes, lines, and methods of manipulating sketching to provide the depth and structure for the desired effect. After a few lessons, the students have been set free to gather in the Security Central Plaza of the museum to draw Granny's Prayer, a black Tennessee Walking Horse.

Since one of the languages the school teaches students is Mandarin, the museum wanted to incorporate horses into the mix, with it being the Chinese year of the horse. The class falling in 2014 might be a good thing for their planning. If the class started in 2012, during the year of the dragon, the museum might have had larger problems than horse manure.

"For us, it is very exciting to get to work with this same group of kids and being able to take our time and make all of the stops," Gordon said. "Schools might have a harder time with drawing from life, but with our arts team here, it has been fun to think outside the box. With our small group we've been able to plan ahead for some really exciting things, such as how to curate an exhibit, different art forms, what it takes to run a museum and all of that. Very exciting things are happening, that's for sure."

The museum recently gave the students lessons on each new piece in their upcoming installment for their 35 anniversary. Staff said students have expressed much pride and enthusiasm in class and being able to take daily field trips within their community to learn, firsthand, from prominent members in the designated subjects.

Joseph Pratt can be reached at 740-353-3101, EXT 1932, or @JosephPratt03.


(c)2014 The Portsmouth Daily Times (Portsmouth, Ohio)

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Source: Portsmouth Daily Times, The (OH)

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