Downtown Akron will use student ideas to feature art

Last Tuesday, 8th grade students from the National Inventors Hall of Fame Center for STEM Learning put their problem-solving skills to work for Akron’s art community.

Representatives of the Akron Art Museum, ArtsNow, and the Downtown Akron Partnership came to the students with a challenge: What would make Akron art unmissable?

The challenge is one recent example of a problem-based learning unit, or PBL. Julienne Hogarth, learning coach for the 20 student presenters, explained her role.

“We try to find community partners who are willing to introduce our learners to authentic problems facing the community.” Students then work together to find viable solutions based on their own ideas. “They felt like they had a voice in their community by creating real solutions,” explained Hogarth. “It’s a win-win for the learners and for Akron.”

The proposals ranged from technical to artsy. Students developed an educational art walk app for smartphones, guiding users on a tour through art in Akron. Others designed a stylized arrow in the shape of an “A” to mark points of artistic interest. One team created a coloring book based on local art pieces.

Akron students pose with their prototypes for promoting art
Aktron students pose with their prototypes
for promoting art

The students impressed Suzie Graham, president of the Downtown Akron Partnership: “It’s clear to me that these learners are invested in this project.”

But she offered more than words of praise. The Downtown Akron Partnership will sponsor development of the app and crosswalk design. The students will see their proposals put into action when they unveil their final designs in the fall.

Nick Warner, 8th grader, spoke of his experience: “I found many pieces of public art I pass by often and didn’t notice.”

“I see art differently now.”

Thanks to these students, the rest of Akron may soon agree.
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