My Life at the MACC
The Office of the Director
MACC Calls for STEAM Students for Mini-Metropolis
By Michelle Michaud
For January 2015
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, and it’s how schools across the country are preparing tomorrow’s workers for a high-tech world. To that end, the Mountain Arts Community Center (MACC) is jumping on the STEAM wagon, by offering a specialized class on building a mini-metropolis – some people may know this as a fairy garden.
“We didn’t want to call it a fairy garden because we think that name is too limiting for the kids of today,” said Barb Storm, Executive Director of the MACC. “At the same time, they will really enjoy, planning, engineering, and making a miniature world with all that entails.”
The MACC applied for and was awarded a community grant from Arts Build to produce a community fairy garden that integrates the STEAM concepts. “Here’s how we’ll do it,” said Barb. “Interested students will sign up for two, six week classes. The first six weeks is heavy in the hands-on creation of a town concept with mock ups including, cardboard, wood working and pottery,” she said.
Lolly Durant, a pottery teacher at the MACC and project committee chairperson, says the second six weeks uses completely new materials like Monster Mud to fashion walkways, infrastructure, ponds, hills and anything else the young minds can think up. “We want the same group to take both sessions so they can see the project progress from beginning to end. And we want them to be there to help install it.”
Durant says that MACC needs creative students ages 8 to 18. Students will have access and be taught by professionals like Karen Rhennich, Chattanooga and Hamilton County Planning Commission; Kim Bonastia, owner of Signal Mountain Nursery and Landscape Architect; Lolly Durant, Pottery Teacher; Susan Jones, Reading and Writing teacher at Bright School, Andrea Phelps, Installation Graphic Designer; Wayne Williams, Architect; and Bob McElhaney, Wood Turner.
“Prospective students for MACC’s Mini-Metropolis Project (or 3M) should log on to SignalMACC.org and register as soon as possible. Classes begin Tuesday January 13 and continue until it’s done at the end of March,” said Barb.
The Mini-Metropolis will be installed on MACC’s property, “We intend to utilize the already raised bed at the side entrance of the MACC, along the Kentucky Ave. side of the building. The dimensions are 9.4’ X 32.5’,” said Judy Nowlin, 3M grant writer.
Collaboration is key to this project, and very important to the granting committee of the Arts Build Communities Grants. “We plan to reach out to our largest senior community, the residents of Alexian, and the seniors in the Lion’s Club. There are many talented retirees who would enjoy planning and planting a fairy garden, and who also could teach and assist the children in the construction of the garden,” she said.
“This kind of intergenerational teaching and learning benefits all those involved. Studies indicate that the benefit to seniors can reflect itself in improved health, mentally, emotionally and physically, and even to longer life. The benefit to children working with seniors is also well documented. The passing on of wisdom, maturity, skills and problem solving are only a few of the benefits. Alexian also has a woodworking club of men who could help in the construction of buildings for the garden,” said Nowlin.
The Signal Mountain Nursery will assist in the design, selection of plants, and teach students young and old how to choose plants that will work well in this situation. “This is a benefit to the MACC, the community, and to the business,” said Storm.
“We will reach out to the community asking gardeners of all varieties to donate certain plants and planting materials,” said Durant, an avid gardener and bee keeper. “We will also ask for stumps and rocks as the design calls for them,” she said.