Science-themed art by North Philadelphia middle school students who participated in the Wagner Science’s Science, Nature and Art in Philadelphia (SNAP) program is currently on display through October in the Youth Art Gallery at the Philadelphia Airport, located in Terminal A-East Baggage Claim.
Eighth-graders at General Philip Kearny School also have their artwork on display through the Exhibitions program at the Philadelphia International Airport. The 18-year-old program provides visibility for Philadelphia’s unique cultural life and enriches the experience of the traveling public.
The airport recently held a special reception for the teachers and students. The visit included a personal welcome from the Airport’s CEO Chellie Cameron and a special guided tour of the airfield.
“The opportunity to give each student in grades six to eight the chance to think artistically about science, make connections between what they are being taught and what they see in the world around, and then to engage in it with critical thought and creative expression in uniquely powerful,” said principal of Kearny, Daniel Kurtz.
For students, the airport exhibit is an opportunity to see their work professionally mounted and hung in a gallery where it will be seen by thousands of travelers over the summer. SNAP teachers believe the exhibit will bring more visibility to the program and the students, who are already positively affected by their participation in the program.
“I can’t thank Wagner enough for all the opportunities and experiences they have opened up for our students,” said Kearny science teacher Mark Nicolella. “I am consistently overwhelmed and impressed by the professionalism and services provided SNAP and now, at the PHL Airport, we can make this program come alive. This has been a bright spot in our students’ year. We appreciate it.”
SNAP is an after-school program that provides art-infused science education at Wagner’s partner schools in North Philadelphia. In six-week cycles, SNAP teaching artist Martha Knox gives lessons that directly support middle school science curriculum, enabling students to better understand and creatively translate the scientific principles they have learned into artistic forms of expression.
Through both science and art, students in grades six through eight develop skills of observation, curiosity, experimentation, discovery and persistence. During a unit on chemistry, students recently learned about the chemical makeup of paint. They then made their own paint from scratch and used it to create watercolors and batiks.
SNAP launched in 2012, with the support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The program builds on the success of the Wagner’s long-running GeoKids program, which provides hands-on science curriculum during the school day to students in grades one through five.
SNAP has served 570 students to date and this year Wagner is piloting an in-school curriculum to reach even more students. The new SNAP curriculum will roll out officially in the fall at Kearny and the Robert Morris School. Wagner hopes to expand it to all of the North Philadelphia schools already served by the GeoKids program.