This Saturday, August 5th the teens and pre-teens from the Hancock County Unit of the Boys and Girls Club will celebrate the culmination of an intense summer watershed STEM program with the opening reception for a multi-media art exhibition of their work. Over the summer the teens and pre-teens experienced everything from a drone flight over the Bayou and water quality testing alongside National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists to field trips to unabridged Architecture and Starfish Café in downtown Bay St. Louis. Students became immersed in the science, arts and culture of Magnolia Bayou, an important coastal stream that flows into the Bay of St. Louis, as they learned about the impacts of stormwater runoff on the Bayou and surrounding 800 acre watershed that includes much of downtown Bay St. Louis.
Steve Barney, a local artist and creator of the STEAMpunk Pottery Project and Bay St. Louis Creative Arts Center, and Kristy Daspit, an educator at Hancock County Middle School, were alongside the students every step of the way. Over the final week of the program Barney and Daspit, with the help of several other community artist volunteers, worked with the students to turn what they had learned into an impressive multi-media art installation. The exhibition includes a video documentary, interactive 3D sculpture of watershed dynamics, water quality exhibits and a species wall with paintings of over 50 species found in the bayou.
“This project was a great opportunity to use artistic expression to teach kids about the science and conservation of the bayou in their backyard,” remarks Barney. “Leveraging subject matter expertise from Stennis and the Artist community of Bay St. Louis, we are able to create engaging and effective learning programs.”
As the lead on the project, Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio was awarded a NOAA-21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) Watershed STEM Education Partnership Grant though the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation with support from NOAA and the U.S. Department of Education 21ST CCLC STEM Initiative. The project goes beyond STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to STEAM, incorporating unexpected elements of art and culture that are so important to Bay St. Louis and the larger Mississippi Gulf Coast Region.
“It has been amazing to witness what our community partners and the young adults at the Boys and Girls Club have accomplished together over a couple of short months this summer,” reflects Kelsey Johnson, community planner at the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio. “We tried to find ways to engage students with a wide variety of interests and talents in STEM experiences by bringing in unexpected elements of art and culture.”
The art exhibition, titled Magnolia Bayou, Bay St. Louis Hidden Watershed, is being installed in a vacant storefront at 122 Blaize Avenue in the Depot District of Bay St. Louis. The opening reception will be on Saturday, August 5th with a private walkthrough for the artists, students, families, partners and press starting at 5pm and will be open to the public from 6 to 8 pm. The public will also be able to view the exhibition Sunday, August 6th through Friday, August 11th from 1 to 2 pm and on the Second Saturday, August 12th from 4 to 7pm. Interested community members who cannot make those times are welcome to call 228-342-7668 to schedule another time to view the exhibit.
To learn more about Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, visit: http://gccds.org
To learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast Hancock County Unit, visit: http://www.bgcgulfcoast.org/hancock-county-unit
To learn more about ED’s 21st CCLCs program, visit: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/21stcclc/.
To learn more about NOAA and the B-WET program, visit: http://www.noaa.gov/office-education/bwet
To learn more about the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, visit: https://www.marinesanctuary.org/