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Faced with the prospect of having to close its doors in 2015 due to financial constraints, Water Street Studios in Batavia is enjoying a vibrant rebirth through the grants and support of local donors and, today, stands as a thriving cultural hub of regional acclaim.

Highlighting the resurrection is a new, three-year program implemented in 2016. Supported by a $94,000 Dunham Fund grant, Ripple Effect integrates arts into the academic curriculum for elementary school students, broadening their STEM learning (science, technology, engineering, math) into a STEAM education.

The free after-school classes make the arts available on a weekly basis for young students, fostering their creative thinking, expression and growth.


Results

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Instituted in the fall of 2016, Ripple Effect is an eight-week program for third, fourth and fifth-grade students at J.B. Nelson and H.C. Storm schools, with plans to expand the program throughout all six of Batavia’s elementary schools. Under the guidance of WSS instructors, 184 students participated in the pilot program.

Applying art to its STEM objectives, students achieved the following:

  • Cool Crustaceans (Science): Students were instructed on body parts of a crustacean, choosing one (shrimp, lobster, etc.) to draw and render. Presented with the artistic elements of stained glass, the students then drew their crustaceans and rendered them into faux stained glass artwork.
  • Roman Arches (Engineering): Students were taught about Roman arches – an ancient form of architecture still used to this day – and of relief sculpture, the artistic images carved onto a stone’s surface that bring a sculpture’s story to life. Students then created their own arches with ice cube trays and plaster, complete with intricate relief designs.
  • Fibonacci Spiral (Math): Students were taught the Fibonacci sequence of numbers and shown how to create a spiral from it, viewing examples of spiral shapes commonly found in nature such as plants, sea shells and space galaxies. With this knowledge, students explored concepts of mosaics and turned their spirals into dazzling mosaic designs, using a variety of dry beans to create a colorful collage.

For each project, students added new vocabulary into their foldable books and illustrated them, having learned both STEM vocabulary and new artistic terms and concepts. Following the program, Water Street Studios hosts a show for each school, providing a forum for students to display their favorite project and invite family and friends to celebrate their learning.

The Dunham Fund is proud to support our local arts community by providing financial assistance to create opportunities that implement the arts as an important learning tool in student’s academic curriculum.