Learning How To Save the Bay

Learning How To Save the Bay

Potomac Elementary Students develop a curriculum-integrated museum.

Peg Koetsch is teaching Potomac Elementary students to think in ways they normally would not.

“I come in and teach them how to think like a museum curator,” Koetsch said.

Koetsch is the coordinator for the county’s “Arts Integrated Model Schools” of which Potomac is one.

This Potomac’s first year as an arts integrated model school, and some of the students are working on a museum about the Chesapeake Bay.

The idea behind the program is to allow the students to learn about a topic and then be able to apply it, learning the topic in more depth and understanding how to develop concepts into an artistic medium.

For example, students learned about how fish might camouflage themselves in the waters of the bay. They would then draw a picture of an undersea landscape, and a separate picture of a fish. The landscape picture was cut to allow the fish to be woven into the picture. When done properly, the fish would blend into the picture.

In another portion, students made “eco-columns,” small-scale versions of conditions similar to the waters of the bay. “Some I deliberately polluted,” Koetsch said. This forced students to examine the negative effects pollution can have on the environment.

The lessons are being taken to heart by some of the students.

“This is not what we want the bay to look like,” said Julie Gelb, 9. “If we just don’t do anything, it will get worse.”

The different exhibits developed by the students allow them to study the project by combining verbal, language and artistic skills.

“What they’re modeling is all the different ways that people like to learn,” Koetsch said. “They have to reflect on what they have learned and how they learned it.”

Students had a variety of different favorites in developing the projects. Louis Rothstein, 10, enjoyed the clay models which students made. “We got to use clay and our imagination,” he said.

Others liked the collaborative nature of some of the projects. “Because you get to know people better,” said Kara Wilson, 9.

The song about the Chesapeake, with student-composed lyrics, was the favorite for one.

“I like my screech at the end,” said Britton Sorensen, 9.