Art, science and teachers merge during artsFUSION workshop

Maddie Sorenson from Cedar City draws a moose displayed in the Garth and Jerri Frehner Museum of Natural History on Tuesday for the drawing workshop put on by the artsFUSION workshop. / Asher Swan / Daily News

 Elementary school teachers throughout Utah met to participate in the annual summer artsFUSION workshop. The event, which was on the Southern Utah University campus Monday and Tuesday, provided the educators with artistic ideas for making the Utah core curriculum come alive for their students.

 Carrie Trehnholm, endowed chairwoman for the SUU arts education department, said the theme for this year’s workshop was Night and Play. She said the teachers learned how to instruct children about several areas of physical and natural science such as constellations, phases of the moon and the differences between animals that are active during the day and those that are active at nighttime. 

Trenholm said the workshop tied instruction together with a project in which the teachers created shadow puppets for a performance Tuesday afternoon using stories they wrote as they worked together in teams. They also learned about shadow puppets that are created in other countries throughout the world, such as in Indonesia and China.

Alisa Petersen, who taught the visual art section of the workshop, said shadow puppets are flat figures propelled by using rods or sticks for joints. Then puppeteers place them behind lighted screens so the audience only sees the movement of the puppets’ shadows. She said the groups of teachers told the stories about their animal puppets in the Tuesday afternoon performance.

“The great thing is the teachers have had to work together to really develop characters,” Petersen said, adding that teachers had the opportunity to work through the writing process their students experience in the classroom.

Petersen said development of the art lesson she prepared for the teachers was geared toward teaching the scientific concepts their students are learning appropriate to their grade level.

Trenholm said the storytelling aspect of the workshop and performance tied literacy into the science lessons the children need to learn.

Winora Bess, a second-grade teacher at East Elementary in Cedar City, said she has attended the artsFUSION teacher’s workshop several times. She said she appreciates the way workshops “fuse” science with visual, language and performing arts.

“Everybody knows that kids learn better if they can have hands-on types of things,” Bess said. “It just helps them to remember.”

 She said using the artsFUSION approach makes science lessons more fun for her to teach. 

Trenholm said Laura Cotts, a retired professor from the SUU science department, demonstrated how the moon appears at different times of day as light from the sun shines on it and it moves around the earth and how observers only see the part that is lit from different angles. Trenholm said the purpose of the demonstration was for the teachers to see the phenomenon visually so they would be equipped to explain it clearly to their students.

Scott Flox said he teaches third grade at a charter school in Holiday and this is the first year he has attended the workshop. He said the workshop gave him a lot of good ideas for presenting lessons to his students.

Trenholm said the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Foundation and Artworks for Kids, an arts learning program in Utah, sponsored the artsFUSION workshop.



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