"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. Launched in 2016, the program supported 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.
Phase I culminated 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, 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 environment, wherever they may find themselves.
Students reported newfound enthusiasm for being outdoors, observing the ground beneath their feet, and exploring soil science as a potential career. In relation to the Arts, students reported being amazed at their own ability to create enormous, tactile, visually complex imagery together as a group. They wrote insightful 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 were enthusiastic about their students' experience with public land (including their own schoolyards) and about the collaborations across classrooms and disciplines. Educators were also pleased with with the opportunities for them to participate alongside their students as learners, scientists, and artists in an integrated learning experience.