“It’s one thing to learn about nature in the classroom; it’s another to experience it. It makes much more of an impact on you!”
That student comment hints at the enthusiasm and understanding generated by a recent interdisciplinary program, Creative Expressions in Nature. This weeklong experiential trip has been offered as an option for Principia upperclassmen since 1982, and students have jumped at the opportunity to learn about nature and develop skills in observation, art, writing, and photography.
This year’s trip to Wyoming’s wintry reaches included all students enrolled in two classes—Field and Natural History and Photo 2. Photography teacher Dana LePoidevin appreciated the cross-curricular synergy as students grasped how art, photography, and writing can “not only document field work and capture the beauty of a place but also powerfully communicate the connection we have—and need to have—to nature.”
“We got to look at how art and writing could be inspired by the natural world and how they could be used to share science,” said one appreciative student. To help make these connections, two Principia alumni—author Tarn Wilson and artist Kristin Serafini—led sessions in creative writing, illustration, and painting.
Science teacher Lynne Scott appreciated Principia’s partnership with the Teton Science School (TSS), which hosted the group and provided instructors and guides. During a very full week, the students skied, snowshoed, and completed a short research project in Grand Teton National Park. Each day, Scott says, was filled with “high-level work—students collecting data, processing and presenting it . . . and experiencing what it’s like to work as a naturalist.”
Through interaction with TSS graduate student instructors, Scott notes, “[Principia] students learned more about the possibilities of graduate school,” and about the initiative, persistence, and work ethic necessary for higher learning and research.