Camp Leonardo Uses Science, Art to Teach Students about Gulf Coast Environment
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Contact Charmaine Schmermund, 228.865.4573   

School may be out for the summer, but students from along the Mississippi Gulf Coast recently took education to a new level at Camp Leonardo: Where Science Meets Art, the second summer the Gulf of Mexico Alliance has sponsored the free camp.

Hosted by The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast and the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs, students from third through eighth grades participating in the camp spent one week exploring science and art in relation to the various aquatic environments on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"The campers are having a great time creating projects that help them to visualize exactly how vital our coastal waters are and the importance of keeping our environment clean,” said Vicki Turner,  a science teacher for Camp Leonardo.

One example was a project where students created wetlands in a pan using clay, sponges and water. This demonstration teaches students how the wetlands protect from flooding and drought and provide food sources for much of the country and the world.

Each day the students explored a new area of the coast. In the mornings, students learned about the wetlands at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, hiking the Gulf Islands National Park, following the footsteps of renowned artist and naturalist Walter Anderson and learning how Sandhill Cranes are protected.

“I really liked the day we went out on the shrimp boat,” said 8-year-old Emerson Meyer of Ocean Springs. “They caught some catfish for us to see. We learned about the daddy catfish and how he keeps the fish eggs in his mouth to protect them until they are baby fish. We also learned about the wetlands and that we need to protect them.”

Following the morning excursions, students would rotate through various art sessions at the cultural center. applying what they learned that morning. Mary C. O’Keefe education coordinator Ashley Rodriguez, who directed Camp Leonardo this summer, believes the camp is “a great opportunity for all children because it is an inspiring program packed full of fun learning.”

Camp Leonardo is part of Project WetKids, a program created to provide students with hands-on experiences related to the Mississippi Gulf Coast wetlands using regional scientists, engineers and naturalists. Project WetKids began with a partnership between Southern Miss, ChevronTexaco, Audubon Mississippi, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Mississippi Naturalists and Stennis Space Center through an $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Academies for Young Scientists.

For more information about Camp Leonardo and Project WetKids, visit www.projectwetkids.net


Zoe Griffin of Ocean Springs, right, works with art teacher Shelby Siano Fox of Gulfport during Camp Leonardo: Where Science Meets Art. Hosted by The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast and the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs, students from third through eighth grades spent one week exploring science and art in relation to the various aquatic environments on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.


Robyn Niezgoda of Long Beach smiles with a little shrimp at Camp Leonardo: Where Science Meets Art. Hosted by The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast and the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs, students from third through eighth grades spent one week exploring science and art in relation to the various aquatic environments on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu/gulfcoast .
                                                                                
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