JACKSON TWP. – This is one classroom art project that is out of this world.
Students in Lindsey Fuser’s fourth grade class at Strausser Elementary School this past school year were asked to create artwork to decorate the outside of a NASA satellite that will be launched into space.
For more than a year, organizers and students had to keep the project a secret while classrooms across the United States created artwork for the first children’s art show in space.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Fuser said. “This is the first time children can send a message to the universe.”
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The 26 fourth-graders from Jackson spent several art hours creating their masterpieces that answer the question, “What are you most proud of on Earth that you would like to share with the universe?”
Fuser said students were asked to consider what, if anything, makes Earth a good neighbor.
students put pencil to paper to answer the question and create their drawings on a 6 by 6 square.
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Quinn Schuring knew from the start what she was going to paint—her family, including mom and dad, Alison 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 hold hands while Everett is perched on his father’s shoulders.
Nine-year-old Mais Zaluk drew three flowers and a bumblebee buzzing on the flora.
“I think flowers are pretty cool,” 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 painted 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 the peace sign.
Tate Husted drew a snowman.
“The snow is unique,” said the 10-year-old. “The little specks of snow are individual, but all together make the snowman.”
How the Strausser School Got Together with NASA
Strausser was selected by DrawTogether and NASA.
Fuzer began using online art classes created by New York Times bestselling illustrator Wendy McNaughton 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 say thank you for the free lessons.
“They were like, ‘You’re an educator who uses it?'”
From there, Fuser began working with the group to develop educational materials.
“It was one of those connecting with the right people,” Fuser said of the students’ opportunity to provide artwork to NASA.
Jackson’s elementary curriculum coordinator, Becky Gribble, said Fuser is a creative teacher who is always looking for ways to expand learning.
A trained social worker, McNaughton not only incorporates art fundamentals into her lessons, but also centers them around social and emotional learning, Fuser 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 impromptu online art classes grew into a YouTube channel and podcasts and DrawTogether classrooms, which Fuzer continues to use in her classroom.
“She saw the need when we were home,” Fuser said. “The first lesson she had 12,000 views, the next 16,000.”
McNaughton provided an art lesson once a day for several weeks during the shutdown.
The drawings were due to be submitted to NASA last November, and Fuser said the children’s creations 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 before being carried into space on a SpaceX rocket.
It’s unclear when the satellite will be launched, but Fuzer hopes the students will be able to watch the launch together. They also hope to arrange a virtual visit with NASA so they can see the process of turning their masterpieces into engravings on the satellite.
Contact Amy at 330-775-1135 or [email protected]
On Twitter: @aknappINDE