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​Find past newsletter articles, press releases, and other media showcasing local agriculture, placed-based education, and conservation of natural resources in Sullivan County.

The Joy of Science and Art

This past week I (Elyse) had the great fortune of working with the St. Gaudens National Park for their annual middle school STEAM Camp. The St. Gaudens STEAM camp is a week-long camp for middle schoolers from all around the area. There were kiddos from Lebanon, Charlestown, Claremont, Cornish, and Hartford. Sullivan County Conservation District (SCCD) is a community partner for Saint Gaudens in a collaboration known as Park for Every Classroom (PEC). SCCD help out with STEAM Camp each year and leads some of the activities throughout the week. For those that don’t know, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Campers get to participate in a wide variety of activities that span the scope of STEAM.

It was my job to come up with some environmental science and nature-related activities that could be incorporated into the camp throughout the week. I was there for four days and taught three different science/nature lessons. On the first day, we did a nature scavenger hunt and used our senses to try and discover some new plants, bugs, and rocks in the camp area. We learned how naturalists use their senses to help observe different natural phenomena. On the second day, I led a stream study where we used nets and buckets to catch different stream critters. We used multiple identification tools to help with IDing the different critters. Some of the critters we caught are called bio-indicators. Species that are bio-indicators help scientists determine the quality of the stream water. Based on the species we found, Blow-Me-Down Creek seemed pretty healthy. On the third day, we were at the main park and engaged in history, art, and engineering projects. On the fourth day, I taught a lesson about the Fibonacci sequence and how it is found in nature. Yes, I even got the middle schoolers to think that math is fun.

Although I was only leading one activity each day, I still had a great time helping lead the camp. I was surprised at how engaged the students were with every single activity. It didn’t matter if we were searching for bugs or using watercolors, the kids were fascinated by each topic. It reminded me of how I was at that age, how I loved learning new things and took each opportunity as a time to try something new. I still love trying new things and each day held something new to learn.

When I was younger, I really liked art and being creative, but as I got older, I started becoming far more interested in science and math. I stopped doing some of the more creative art projects and doing more science things. I occasionally did art projects here and there, but I never really thought of myself as an artist. Participating in this camp and preparing for this STEAM camp made me realize that having multiple interests is fine and I don’t have to define myself as a scientist or an artist. The acronym STEAM puts all of those topics together for a reason. They are intertwined and connected. It’s very difficult to study one subject without the other. Thinking back to my schooling and all of the science courses I took, I realized that I used many resources and references that had hand-drawn pictures or beautifully taken photographs. This made me realize that there is so much art in my field. Now I want to stop and appreciate it more.

I will always be a scientist and will always strive to learn something new every day, but now I have a better appreciation and understanding for the other things in life that bring me joy, like art!


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