Friday, May 2, 2014

Manzo Elementary Presents Art Exhibit at Biosphere 2

Posted By on Fri, May 2, 2014 at 9:35 AM

A fourth grader from Manzo Elementary School shows off her artwork to visitors at the exhibit.
  • Tanner Clinch
  • A fourth grader from Manzo Elementary School shows off her artwork to visitors at the exhibit.

Back in November, Tucson Weekly ran a story by Robert Alcaraz about the fourth graders from Manzo Elementary School who have undertaken research to help Biosphere 2's researchers and their massive ecology experiment, the Landscape Evolution Observatory. This past Saturday, April 26, Manzo was back again at Biosphere 2, this time to present artwork created by the students from their nine-month long partnership with Biosphere 2 and the University of Arizona's School of Geography and Development. Tanner Clinch was there to cover the event.


A group of bustling fourth graders depart from a bus, bumping into one another, clinging to get the first look at a new art exhibit, which features their artwork.

Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Ariz., hosted the Landscape Evolution: An Art Show on Saturday, April 26, 2014, that showcased artwork by fourth graders from Manzo Elementary School in Barrio Hollywood, a neighborhood west of Tucson. The exhibit featured work by the students who have spent the last nine months working on a seed experiment in conjunction with researchers at Biosphere 2 and the University of Arizona.

Originally designed to replicate the atmosphere and ecology of earth, Biosphere 2 now stands as a research facility to better understand how plants and the environment in different controlled experiments. Last year, Manzo Elementary School approached Biosphere 2 and the University of Arizona School of Geography and Development to work together on a project that would help promote hands-on science and math education in the classroom.

The event on Saturday, held at the Biosphere 2’s B2 gallery, featured art created by the students, which displays how climate change works. Many of the parents of students were there, showing their support and learning how the teachers of their kids have come up with this idea of teaching through research in a presentation, which took place next to the exhibit in the Sahara Room.

(more after the jump)

Regina Heitzer-Momaday, who was the art coordinator of the exhibit, said she was ecstatic about being able to display the work by these talented fourth grade kids. All of the art will be in a gallery in the main entrance of the Biosphere 2 for several months. There are paintings of how volcanic activity affects the environment on canvas, to fragile ad hoc Papier-mâché mounted in cases like sculptures.

Group of students crowd around a poster just outside their exhibit, showing one another there featured pieces.
  • Tanner Clinch
  • Group of students crowd around a poster just outside their exhibit, showing one another there featured pieces.

The project, spearheaded by Michelle Coe, a graduate student with the school of geography and NASA fellow, created miniature versions of the hallmark Landscape Evolution Observatory hillslopes to help educate kids on environmental sustainability through research. In their case, the students helped the researchers study which seeds were the most successful for the LEO experiment.

The mini-LEOs provide small models of an environment, which give scientists insight on how earth’s landscape will change with a tumultuous climate. The data the Manzo students collected will help the Biosphere 2 team determine which plants will be put in the actual LEO which is the Biosphere 2 itself.

Many of the teachers and those involved said that they believe that education of the youth is a good way to help combat global warming and climate change. Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the College Sciences at the University of Arizona who has worked with Manzo Elementary program says education is the only way to combat climate change. Moses Thompson, Manzo Elementary School Counselor, and one of the people most involved in this project said himself he never received any education such as these kids are when he was growing up and is ambitious about trying to extend a program like this next year.

The true metric of the success of the program is the effect it is having on the children in the program.
Even though the Manzo Elementary has been plagued with threats of closure its one of a kind ecology program has made it “that little school that could,” said Adelita Grijalva, the president of the governing board of the Tucson Unified School District.

“I am an artist and a scientist,” said Xitlali Jimenez, one of the fourth graders who gave a presentation at the event.

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