The out-of-classroom learning opportunities available to students in Northwest Arkansas are world class. Consider the Scott Family Amazeum, a museum for children and families, where everything is hands-on and designed to be touched, climbed on, and interacted with. Exhibits work to engage the imagination and to bring art and science to life. Of course, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, recognized as one of the most important American art museums to open in the United States in the past decade, never charges an admission fee although it does charge fees for special, temporary exhibits.
“From childhood, we gather information that will guide our lives. We never stop asking questions and we depend on everyone - parents, friends, community - to join this amazing adventure. The Scott Family Amazeum, a hands-on museum for children and families in Northwest Arkansas, is the dream of a community - to educate people in the best ways possible for whatever lies ahead and to engage the entire family in exploration, learning, and fun.”THE SCOTT FAMILY AMAZEUMINTERACTIVE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM
The Fayetteville Public Library has an entire page devoted to events for children. The Siloam Springs Public Library, which opened this year, will be offering events geared towards children as well.
Walton Arts Center offers programs designed to incorporate the arts into students’ lives. More than 27,000 students in more than 100 schools annually experience a live performance at Walton Arts Center as part of the Colgate Classroom Series season. An additional 350 teachers learned to use the arts to teach core curriculum subjects that more than 11,000 students learned.
Organizations to Watch
There are so many great people in Northwest Arkansas dedicated to providing rich educational experiences to our students. We’ll periodically introduce you to them here.
Apple Seeds is a farm-to-table program that started as school gardens across the region, arming teachers with project-based learning opportunities. It has expanded its offerings to include supplemental material for educators teaching the common-core curriculum. Their stake in the community has grown from a few school gardens to two working, teaching farms used for field trips. Students who visit the working farms embrace putting their hands in the dirt for an afternoon.
One of Apple Seeds’ purpose is to inspire healthy living and positive food choices by connecting students to food sources. One of the co-executive directors, Mary Thompson, sums it up perfectly when she says, “We want to get them excited about vegetables.” No small task, right?
Research shows Apple Seeds is making a difference. About 95% of students who took a field trip to a teaching farm tried a new vegetable, and 80% of students viewed vegetables more favorably after their interaction with Apple Seeds.
Art Feeds is somewhat of a newcomer to Northwest Arkansas, but that hasn’t slowed their community impact. The founder, Meg Bourne, started Art Feeds in Joplin when the Missouri community was recovering from the May 2011 tornado that wiped out a large swath of the city. Art Feeds’ curriculum is designed to reduce fear, stress and anxiety in students and increase creative problem solving, collaboration and self worth.
The first NWA Art Feeds project was a 14-foot mural designed and produced by fourth-grade students at Parson Hills Elementary School in Springdale. The unveiling of the mural was a proud community moment for the students, educators and volunteers.