Mansfield students travel to Alaska to teach

MANSFIELD – A group of Mansfield University art and math education students, led by associate professor of art Mardi Whitehouse, travelled to Alaska at the beginning of the spring semester to deliver cross-curricular lessons at schools in Nondalton and Newhalen, in the Lake and Peninsula School District.

Over the last year, the six MU students have been working on the cross-curricular lessons for the Alaskan bush schools and, as part of a federal grant, the school district invited them to come and deliver the lessons in person.

In Nondalton, Math Education major Cheri Ostrom, of Liberty, and Art Education major Jolena Treese, of Muncy, taught a lesson on “Optical Illusions,” highlighting artists M. C. Escher and Bridget Riley for a high school classroom.

Art Education major Ryan Morris, of Cuba, N.Y., and Math Education major Caitlin Miller, of Renfrew, developed a lesson called “Linear Kandinsky” for a pre-algebra class.

Art Education Major Samantha McGraw, of Taylor, and Math Education major Olivia Martin, of Ulysses, developed an elementary lesson entitled “Shapes, Colors & Keith Haring.”

All of the MU students wrote a cross-curricular instructional manual for junior and senior high school students on pinhole photography. The Newhalen students completed the construction of pinhole cameras from the first section of the instructional manual sent at the end of spring 2013 semester.

“Thanks to the trip MU students facilitated a small darkroom,” Whitehouse said. “Then they helped students take their first pictures, develop negatives, and print cyanotype contact prints (blueprints).”

“Our MU travelers returned with pictures and video that will be shared at future conferences,” she added. “Ryan Morris has already presented his video to Croman Elementary School in Troy, where he is student teaching. Everyone acknowledged that this was a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience immersed in the culture, life and education of bush Alaska.”