Young minds identify what shapes Golden

Third-graders work with artist on school sculpture

Posted 2/22/18

Whether it be Clear Creek or Golden’s Welcome Arch, third-graders at Mitchell Elementary School know what shapes Golden. It’s “the Astor House to me because of the roof,” Ansel Champlin said. …

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Young minds identify what shapes Golden

Third-graders work with artist on school sculpture

Posted

Whether it be Clear Creek or Golden’s Welcome Arch, third-graders at Mitchell Elementary School know what shapes Golden.

It’s “the Astor House to me because of the roof,” Ansel Champlin said. “There’s lots of different angles and completely different views of the roof.”

Plus, “it’s an historical landmark and it’s got lots of historical facts about Golden built inside it,” fellow student Stella Gibbons added.

As a tie-in to their studies of public art and architecture, Mitchell’s third-graders are working on a large-scale project called What Shapes Golden.

They’re learning “the value of having art where everyone can see it, interact with it, be involved with it and enjoy it,” said Patti Nielson, the school’s art teacher. “This will be a legacy.”

The end result of What Shapes Golden will be a large sculpture — designed by a professional artist with the students’ artwork as inspiration — that will hang in the school’s atrium.

The project started in December and continues to be a work-in-progress. The unveiling of the sculpture does not have a set date, but is anticipated to happen late this spring.

“I’ve been involved with stuff before, but this time I’m leaving a mark,” student Seamus Wisell said. “It’s going to be here for a long time.”

Addy Brown agreed. Her brother will be in kindergarten at Mitchell next year, so she is happy that he will get to see it.

“All the other kids that will be coming (to Mitchell) will get to see the work of the other kids before them,” Brown said.

In January, the entire third-grade class took a field trip to downtown Golden to take pictures of architectural shapes that depict Golden. From the hundreds of pictures taken that day, students selected 18 to present to Susan Cooper, the artist who will use them to design the final sculpture.

An Englewood resident, Cooper has been doing public art for 28 years. The students’ work on What Shapes Golden inspires her.

“I re-learned how to be open to fresh ideas,” Cooper said, adding these particular ideas are especially unique as they are coming from young minds. “Public art is a very involved and complicated process, and the opportunity to work with school kids is refreshing. It was so easy to say yes to get to work with them.”

The project helps students understand that public art is a collaborative project, Nielson said.

But they also learn a variety of skill sets that apply in the real world, said Melissa Swenson, the school’s digital teacher librarian.

“It expands their learning when they can apply it to the real world,” Swenson said.

In addition to the artwork aspect of it, each third-grade class chose a building, and every student wrote a report on their class’ chosen building. In all, the skills used for this project include how to work together, research, creativity, critical thinking, presentation and communication, Swenson said.

But one aspect the students enjoyed most about the project was working collaboratively.

“I like working together with the team,” Jacey Thompson said.

She explained that it’s best — and easiest — to find solutions to problems when everyone is working together to solve them.

“It’s a process and it’s probably going to be a lot different in the end,” third-grader Rowan Goble said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like when it’s all done.”

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