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Mural illustrates focus on science
Vickery Creek staff, students pleased with artwork
Mural WEB 1
Kent Knowles, a professor at Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, talks about the mural he painted for a new science lab at Vickery Creek Elementary School. - photo by Jim Dean

A three-panel mural aims to inspire in Vickery Creek Elementary School’s new science lab.

Painter Kent Knowles said the collage of animals, plants, inventions, scientific symbols and more is intended to connect science and art for students.

“Just like science, the more you look at something the more you understand it,” Knowles said.

“In a piece like this, where the typical concept of space is kind of thrown out the window, it causes you to look at an object differently than what you assume it to be.”

Teachers, parents and community members admired the mural and the new science lab during a recent grand opening celebration.

Students have been enjoying the lab, which was assembled over the summer, since the start of the school year last month.

Principal Ron McAllister said the idea arose from the students’ interest in experiments conducted the previous school year.

“As soon as we mentioned the idea, there was so much momentum supporting it,” said McAllister, adding the project was primarily funded through community donations.

The lab features several educational materials, including microscopes, specimens, experimental ingredients and diagrams.

For McAllister, the mural may be the greatest teaching tool of all.

“I want it to inspire kids and adults. I want them to think beyond elementary science,” he said. “I want every time they look at it to see something else.”

That was the direction McAllister said he gave to painter Knowles, a Savannah College of Art and Design professor.

He used that approach as an example for teachers visiting the lab to consider in their classes.

“If I had gone in telling [Knowles] I want this and this and this, look what we would have missed,” McAllister said.

“The beauty is putting it in the hands of the artist. If we do that with kids, they’ll amaze us with what they can do.”

Kindergarten teacher Rebecca Bronson, who helped design the lab, has seen a spark in her class from working in the new lab.

After doing an indoor experiment about the water cycle, her students made the connection when noticing a stream out back had evaporated.

“They’re taking what they learned in class and looking at the world in a whole new way,” Bronson said.

While science learning happens throughout the school, the lab gets students more excited about tackling the subject, first-grade teacher Tracey Varrone said.

“They’re so eager to come,” she said. “They’re equally excited when [an experiment] doesn’t work because that means we can try something else.”

The lab also gives students a chance to be like scientists, and Varrone said the mural has inspired her class to play the part.

Many drew from the painting when she asked them what they wanted to learn about.

For fifth-grader Marc Ellenburg, the mural is his favorite part about the new science lab.

“When you go in there, you can just focus on science,” Ellenburg said.