'Creating' Space for Kids to Connect to Waterways: Learning by doing Art

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Waterwatch’s standard school education programs explain catchment health to students through hands-on, science activities, in the field and in classrooms. These sessions are commonly instructive and fact-filled presentations and spiels accompanied by short practical hands-on scientific activities. While this style of program has been deemed successful and popular through teacher evaluation, Port Phillip and Westernport Waterwatch are trialling the addition of another dimension to this experience by incorporating art into a standard session. Our ultimate goal is to enhance the connection students can make to a waterway during a Waterwatch experience and increase our scope for successfully guiding young people toward stewardship for their natural environment, for a long term sustainable future. A variety of art activities were embedded in the learning process during field and classroom sessions. We incorporated drawing, painting, clay-modelling and photography into the Waterwatch sessions. The act of engaging with an aspect of the environment by completing an artistic task was the focus, and the final piece or its quality was not of high importance. During the trial we observed the role art played in the students’ experience through note taking and student reflections. Our paper displays a selection of case studies and reflections of our experiences incorporating art into standard Waterwatch sessions. We demonstrate a range of artistic activities that can be easily incorporated into Waterwatch sessions and discuss the highlights and issues of this style of learning.


Keywords: Waterwatch, Education, Artistic Process, River Health, School Programs
Stream: Environmental Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Waterwatch and Art,


Sarah Crinall

Werribee Plains Waterwatch Education Coordinator, Community Programs
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Sarah has a background in science and education. Sarah has worked with three Waterwatch regions in the Port Phillip and Westernport catchment, and currently coordinates the schools component of the Werribee Plains Waterwatch program. Sarah is developing a type of program for Werribee Plains that reflects her interest in art and creativity and her strong belief in student-centered learning.

Tobey Henry

North-East Melbourne Waterwatch Education Coordinator, Environment and Planning
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Tobey Henry has a background in education and science. She has taught at a secondary school and various environmental education organisations. She believes the process of creating art within the science curriculum can be an important tool for learning. Her current position as a Waterwatch Education Officer for the North East Melbourne region involves working primarily with schools to deliver the Waterwatch Program.

Ref: S08P0086