JACKSON TWP. – This is a classroom art project that is out of this world.
Students in Lindsay Fuzer’s fourth grade class at Strausser Elementary School last school year were asked to create artwork to decorate the exterior of a NASA satellite that will be launched into space.
For more than a year, organizers and students had to keep the project under wraps as classrooms across the United States created artwork for the first children’s art show in space.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Fuzer said. “It’s the first time children can send a message to the universe.”
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Jackson’s 26 fourth-graders spent several art hours creating their own masterpieces that answer the question, “What are you most proud of about Earth that you want to share with the universe?”
Fuzer said the students were asked to consider what makes Earth a good neighbor if there is anything else out there.
students put pencil to paper to answer the question and create their own drawings in a 6 by 6 square.
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Quinn Schuring knew from the start what she was going to draw – her family, including mom and dad, Allison and Derrick, and her younger siblings Everett, Lucy and Owen.
“They are the most important thing on earth (to me),” the 10-year-old said. “They support me. They help me. I love them and they love me.”
In the drawing, Schuring and her family are holding hands, while Everett sits on his father’s shoulders.
Nine-year-old Mais Zahlouk drew three flowers and a bumblebee buzzing the flora.
“I think flowers are very beautiful,” she said, admitting that her artwork going into space is probably the closest she’ll ever get to the great unknown.
She would like to know what is there.
In addition to family and flowers, students drew beach scenes and animals such as horses, cheetahs and fish.
Other students depicted their favorite seasons, while others drew friends holding hands to symbolize friendship and a peace sign.
Tate Husted drew a snowman.
“Snow is unique,” said the 10-year-old. “The little specks of snow are individual, but all together make a snowman.”
How the Strausser School joined NASA
Strausser was selected by DrawTogether and NASA.
Fuzer began using online art lessons created by New York Times bestselling illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and her company DrawTogether when classes were closed due to COVID-19.
MacNaughton created the online classes to help children and their parents during school closures.
After using the lessons with her students, Fuzer reached out to DrawTogether to thank for the free lessons.
“They said, ‘Are you an educator who uses it?’
From there, Fuzer began working with the group to develop educational materials.
“It was one of those that connected with the right people,” Fuzer said of the students’ opportunity to provide artwork for NASA.
Jackson Elementary Curriculum Coordinator Becky Gribble said Fuzer is a creative teacher who is always looking for ways to expand learning.
A trained social worker, McNaughton not only incorporates the basics of art into her lessons, but also centers them around social and emotional learning, Fuzer said.
McNaughton teaches students lessons such as not being afraid of making mistakes, how to deal with anxiety and how to be more creative and confident, she said.
The online impromptu art classes have grown into a YouTube channel and podcasts and DrawTogether classes that Fuzer continues to use in her classroom.
“She saw the need when we were home,” Fuzer said. “The first lesson was watched by 12,000, 16,000 followers”.
McNaughton taught an art lesson once a day for several weeks throughout the lockdown.
The drawings were given to NASA last November, and Fuzer said the children’s artwork could be scaled down to the size of a postage stamp.
According to DrawTogether designer Alvaro Villanueva, DrawnTogether and NASA will shape these drawings into a unifying image that will soon be etched into the side of a satellite, then transported into space on a SpaceX rocket.
It’s unclear when the satellite will be launched, but Fuzer hopes students will be able to watch the launch together. They also hope to arrange a virtual visit with NASA to be able to see the process of turning their masterpieces into satellite etchings.
Contact Amy at 330-775-1135 or [email protected]
On Twitter: @aknappINDE