“The captain would be nothing without the admiral,” said Oakland Beach School sixth grader Andrew Soares on Friday.
He was referring to the arts and primary teachers wearing green “admiral” T-shirts as they viewed the results of the collaborative project that third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders and teachers have been working on since January.
This research-based project integrated arts with the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum. The sixth grade class was responsible for every aspect of creating original Star Trek-themed episodes about health crises, such as asthma, cancer and the West Nile virus. Grades three through five were responsible for inventing planets with a climate and appropriate residents involving one of the three diseases. For example, planet “Dead Bird” hosts the West Nile virus and allowed the students to study fungus, mold and bacteria. The students even created their own props such as a navigation station made out of a table covered in colored paper.
“We worked really hard but it was definitely worth it,” said sixth grader Scerenity Hawkins. She said the project allowed her to make new friendships and get to know her classmates better. Hawkins also said that although writing the scripts was challenging, it was a fun way to learn.
To keep students organized, groups had to devise rules in order to minimize disputes. Sixth grader Annabelle Paul said that working together was a challenge because group members often argued and didn’t get along but were able to work it out in the end.
The “admirals” of the project were art teacher Catherine Davis-Hayes, theater and arts special coordinator Amy Lynn Budd and music teacher Trisha Kammerer, along with the primary third through sixth grade teachers.
Budd’s work was funded through grants from Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA), VSA arts, and the CVS Charitable Foundation. Budd has been at the school for the past nine years working with students and teachers on integrative projects.
“Theater arts connects directly with the curriculum content,” said Budd. This is her last year before she enters the Masters Fine Arts in Theater and Directing Program at Purdue University.
VSA arts made sure that even the students with disabilities were included in the project.
“Instead of being the kids with disabilities who are sometimes in segregated classrooms, this is a way of bringing those students into the entire school,” said Jeannine Chartier from VSA arts.
Teachers said they thought the collaboration not only taught students about art and science, but has also developed life skills for every student with different strengths, weaknesses and learning styles.
“The final product speaks for itself,” said sixth grade teacher Mary Chisholm, as everyone gathered in a classroom for a viewing of the video outcome of months of hard work.