March 13, 2024

Creativity on Display in the Elementary Art & Innovation Labs

CCAIL 22_23 Farragut cardboard parade float rainbow clouds

With a focus on supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics programs at  CCUSD schools, the Culver City Education Foundation (CCEF) is proud to make funding possible for specialized learning spaces like the CCUSD Art & Innovation Labs (CCAIL) at every elementary school. In 2021, the Elementary Visual Arts program was re-envisioned and expanded with a goal to help further develop the creative and design thinking skills of students in grades TK-5. The CCAIL program inspires students through hands-on visual art explorations, engineering challenges, and design projects.

Every week, dedicated CCAIL teachers like Eileen Pottinger spark creativity and curiosity with their TK-5th grade students:

“They do so much that is cerebral in school. When they’re here, we want them to be able to make things physically, understanding how different materials interact. We want them to become capable of creating something visual that represents their own ideas and feelings. Those skills are transferable between different ways of making: whether that “making” is sculptural and artistic, or whether it’s in the service of engineering design or robotics.”

Last month, many students participated in a gallery of the artwork created in the Art & Innovation Labs, showcased at the Robert Frost Auditorium during the All District Music Concert. Student pieces included protractor artwork inspired by artist Frank Stella, self portraits, cardboard sculptures, print-working, collage designs, and more. What a joy to have our students proudly share what they created with their families and all the event attendees!

In addition to being taught California visual arts standards in the Art & Innovation Lab, it’s also where our young learners first explore technology and pre-engineering concepts. Kindergarteners tinker with circuits and learn the basic patterns to send codes to a robot. First graders work in teams to figure out how to build boats, bridges, and catapults out of a variety of materials. And third grade students combine artistic, technology and engineering skills, building their own cardboard parade float sculptures driven by a robot underneath! The collaborative problem-solving and design skills fostered in the CCAIL translate to many aspects of their academic experience – forming a passion that leads to STEM and art classes in middle or high school, and even preparing students for potential careers of the future.

If you have an elementary student, be sure to ask them about their experience in the Art & Innovation Lab. CCEF is grateful to our donors for helping us to continue to supply resources for this innovative and unique program during our students’ school day, and extremely appreciative of our CCAIL teachers who inspire our students to think creatively and dream big!