Lesa Beamer, associate professor of Biochemistry, is taking her talents to the arts. She and several other Mizzou professors have teamed up with the Lee Expressive Arts Elementary School in Columbia to implement her “Science ARTreach” program in several of their classrooms.
Beamer’s project was recently funded with a research grant from the National Science Foundation. She began working towards this project almost two years ago, and with the new funding she thinks it can reach its full potential.
“I’ve always felt that the arts were really important to education, and I think it’s particularly true in the case of young children,” says Beamer. Lee Elementary School incorporates art and creativity into several of their studies, including science. Therefore, she thought they would be a great fit for her program.
In past years, she mainly worked with third grade classes because they cover a health and disease unit each year. During this time, Beamer comes into the classrooms for about an hour and gives a fun presentation on germs to the kids.
She tries to make it as interactive as possible by doing a craft with them, and they get to create artistic versions of their own germs. Other activities include collecting germ samples from places around the school, and seeing how they grow over time. “The kids and teachers love it,” says Beamer. “It really opens their eyes to the germs around them, but in a fun way.”
Now that the program has received the three-year grant, she hopes to offer even more to the kids. She and the classroom teachers would like to bring the kids to the MU campus on a fieldtrip. The student’s germ artwork has been displayed in the Bond Life Sciences Center for the past two years, and she thinks it would be fun to let them see it while giving them an educational tour as well.
“I feel that the opportunity of being able to develop a partnership between the university and the public schools is really important, and I think [the program] benefits both parties,” says Beamer. The schools are able to benefit from the expertise and resources that MU has. Some of the students may also be future MU Tigers, so she wants to give them the best experience possible.
Overall, the students and teachers have loved this unit in the past, and she has hopes to spread the program to other grades, and schools in the future.