With a Mercedes Sprinter truck turned art gallery and a 24-foot mobile planetarium, educators from Utah State University are bringing a unique art and cultural experience to rural communities throughout Utah. The program, called Y of the STEM, will give students and the public the chance to learn about water and its importance in their region. Students can contribute to the story of water in their community through the collection of stories, anecdotes, photos and videos that will be shared via video projected inside the dome.
The title of the program, Y of the STEM, references both the Y-shape of a divining rod and the idea of the “why” behind STEM education. Looking for water with divining rods is just one of the arts and STEM activities educators have planned for the program.
The program will be led by Mark Lee-Koven, a professor at USU; Emily Byrd, outreach educator at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA) at USU; and Dave Francis, director and Extension professor at USU.
Katie Lee-Koven, executive director of the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, said the program is meant to help youth connect to their community’s unique history and experiences with water.
“Beyond the political and environmental issues of water and conservation, each of these communities have rich histories with water,” Katie said. “By gathering stories, we hope students can connect to the multigenerational stories of water in their community.”
Ivins, Utah will be the first in a series of visits to schools in rural Utah, including Panguitch and Tremonton. The other site visits will take place between May and October of 2019.
Friday, April 12 at Red Mountain Elementary School, students will have the chance to do several hands-on activities, including using 3D printing to build water-powered flashlights. Water-centered art projects will include using dry pigments and dyes to create collaborative paintings and the creation of pinch pots inspired by NEHMA’s art collection. The project has prompted a renovation of the Mobile Art Truck, which will be used as a gallery space for the first time.
“We’re refinishing the truck to become a gallery space with fresh paint, walls, lighting and podiums in order to display pieces of artwork from the NEHMA collection,” said Byrd, outreach educator at NEHMA. “The artworks correlate with water conservation and environmental concerns, chosen by student ambassadors from the high schools in each area.”
The visit will conclude with a public event at Red Mountain Elementary School from 6-9 p.m. on April 12, a family-centered event offering interactive booths with STEM and arts activities. At 9 p.m., a movie will be projected onto the side of the Mobile Art Truck, with a “bring your own picnic” component featuring local vendors.
Visit artmuseum.usu.edu to stay up to date on future museum events, exhibitions and news.