The EcoSmART project will teach elementary school students to apply creative problem-solving skills and innovative design through a weekly, art-based enrichment program that aims to promote positive self-esteem and inspire interest in the worlds of science and technology.
Participants in EcoSmART generate innovative design techniques and facilitate the creative reuse of non-recyclable materials. For decades, artists and craftsmen have pioneered the idea of transforming discarded objects into priceless works of art and have become a prime example of “working with what you’ve got.” Professionals in the field refer to any discarded, scrap materials that are used in place of purchased art supplies as “found objects.” Whether using worn-out clothing for quilts, broken glass for colorful mosaic or dismal subway walls for public murals, artists employ their visual instincts to imagine the aesthetic possibilities of wasted materials and misused environments. Applying these same principals, EcoSmART provides school students with basic art supplies, reusable refuse items from home, and salvaged materials to create three-dimensional sculptures.
EcoSmART yields not only significant and continuing changes in the environment, but also an emotional impact on group participants. The program leads students to internalize the ideas that second chances are possible and sometimes the most precious things are overlooked at first. Students struggle with the common challenges of social exclusion, peer pressure, bullying and home life stressors. This project would give School Districts an opportunity to support the personal growth of student participants in the EcoSmART program by helping them to positively engage with peers during these art classes, while developing the fundamental creativity and cognitive skills needed to explore the worlds of art, science and technology.