"The Ground Beneath Our Feet" is a STEAM partnership between the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, the White Mountain National Forest and The GLOBE Worldwide Science and Educational Program. The project was launched in 2016 with three interdisciplinary STEAM residencies in NH public school fourth-grade classrooms in Nashua, Campton and Monroe. The residencies combined GLOBE soil curriculum materials, hands-on soil science observation with WMNF soil scientist Andy Colter, and production of large-scale Soil Murals in collaboration with artist in residence Julie Puttgen.
Student, teacher, scientist, artist, and arts organization responses to the residencies were overwhelmingly positive. On the science front, students reported newfound enthusiasm for being outdoors, observing the ground beneath their feet, digging, and soil science as a potential career. On the arts front, students reported being amazed at their ability to create enormous, tactile, visually complex imagery together as a group, with their own hands. They wrote beautiful poems and reports, expressed themselves across media, and learned to incorporate their observations from the natural world into their creative endeavors, as generations of artist-scientists before them have done. Teachers reported great satisfaction in seeing students experience public land – including their own schoolyards – and in watching them collaborate across classrooms and disciplines. Educators were also excited about being invited themselves to participate as learners, scientists, artists in an integrated learning experience.
Phase I culminates this spring with the production of a traveling Soil Tent, incorporating imagery from the school residency murals. The Soil Tent -- which will be available at no charge to schools and community organizations throughout the state -- is configured to elicit the striking sensory experience of entering into the earth, with its layers and creatures on display. Within the Tent space, a series of interactive displays and experiment stations developed by GLOBE offer students opportunities to deepen their curiosity about and understanding of the soil, and to emerge with new tools for observing their soil environment, wherever they may find themselves.