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Just Add Water: More than just an art experience

Jaycie Goetz is working on the St. Croix River watershed map in the Just Add Water lab at The Phipps Center for the Arts' atrium gallery. Submitted photo

Students attending the Phipps Center for the Arts Summer Art Camp had the chance to combine science and art if they signed up for one of four Just Add Water classes. The results of the four weeks of classes are on display at part of the Just Add Water Lab until Sept. 3 in the atrium gallery along with several information stations, with activities designed to engage young and old alike. Everything highlights the St. Croix River and its watershed. A microscope, magnifying station, water cycle bead station along with maps, animal track stamps and resource books and posters are intended to share information about the St. Croix River. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Beginning June 14 the first three sessions were open to children age 8 to 13. Liz Malanaphy was the instructor. Each week the class was visited by a different artist and a local naturalist.

Naturalists who visited the classes included Katy Worrell from the National Park Service, Kari Hussey from Willow River State Park and Alicia Miller from St. Croix County.

Artists included Vera Ming Wong, who taught drawing, Barb Bend, who taught felting, with students creating a variety of fish species, and Christopher Lutter-Gardella joined by Estela DePaolo de Lerma who helped the students create sculptures from trash. The last session, poetry on the river, which was completed Aug. 6 was taught by Bryon Mulrooney.

"I had a great time teaching the writing portion of Just Add Water, which is an ongoing ecological exhibit and classroom," said Mulrooney. "The Two things I did with this class were provide scientific information about the St. Croix river which took the form of plant and animal identification and discuss and practice the creative writing process."

The writing portion of Mulrooney's class was based on a couple of teaching models, "The Six Traits of Writing" and "The Writer's Workshop." The students explored the river and the life around it by going on short, guided walking field trips each day.

"As they gathered more and more knowledge and "artifacts" about and from the river, the students were challenged to integrate new knowledge with their own personal experiences and feelings into a poem," said Mulrooney. "Each day, we talked about a new technique of the writing process: Ideas, word choice, detail, description and editing. At times it felt like a lot of information to cover in a short time, but in the end, I think the students did a fantastic job with their final pieces of poetry. The students were very receptive to new information and they used what they had learned, whether it was about the river or the writing process, to create thoughtful pieces of writing that were personal and imaginative."

The Just Add Water program is made possible with support from Hudson Daybreak Rotary.