'Creating' Space for Kids to Connect to Waterways: Learning by doing Art
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
Werribee Plains Waterwatch Education Coordinator, Community Programs
North-East Melbourne Waterwatch Education Coordinator, Environment and Planning