Problem-solving an art form for Florence kids

Three young artists completed the second session of Youth Creating Art Together Monday in Florence.

Using recycled materials, they designed and built miniature entertainment parks, said YCAT teacher Lydia Gates.

Ezra Darnall, 11, designed a sports complex, assembling a Ferris Wheel, batting cages, sculptures, ticket booth, restrooms and trash cans from bottle caps, cardboard spools and other paper products.

Each part of his design was built from scratch, Gates said.

Ethan Darnall, 10, chose a dolphin theme for his ?Ocean Shore Park.?

In addition to restrooms, gift shop and another store, Ethan included a few rides.

Most of the rides had names, he said, such as ?Feed the Dolphin,? ?Slide a Dolphin? and ?Win a Jellyfish.?

Using the plastic top of a transparent-tape dispenser, Ethan made shark teeth that served as the entrance to the swimming pool.

?I used bottle caps and yarn to make jellyfish,? he said.

Krisde Robinson, 11, called her park, ?The Wild Ride.? Using straws, a salt box, ribbon and a key, she created the ?Twitzy-Blitzy? ride.

Robinson also created a food court, gift shop, ring toss, climbing game and pool at her park.

?Along with putting a plan together,? Gates said, ?each of them thought of something that reflected who they are as individuals.?

Gates said the projects took her students almost eight hours from start to finish.

?They worked on their project for about one and one-half hours every Monday for five weeks,? she said.

As part of the project, the students will review their plan, present an oral presentation, give a final self-evaluation and have a photo session.

They also will be presenting their work to the Florence City Council and have their parks available for other residents to view.

The first YCAT session was in March and April with about 10 students participating.

?Students were asked to make a vase, paper flowers, food placemats and shamrocks,? Gates said.

A big part of the YCAT program is for the students to learn problem solving.

?Each of them explored the process of making something,? Gates said. ?They gained knowledge of shapes, learned about history, recycling, science and the environment.?

They also discovered what would work when designing their parks.

The classes also included learning about other artists too.

?In the second YCAT session,? Gates said, ?the students learned about Louise Nevelson (an abstract expressionist).?

They also read, ?Chicks and Salsa,? by Aaron Reynolds, as part of the curriculum.

YCAT was originally formed through the Marion County Cultural Arts and Learning Center.

?If we have a chance to do this (YCAT) again,? Ethan said, ?I would like to.?

The two other students agreed, adding they learned a lot from the experience.

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