Editor’s note: Educators from across the country dove into the world of youth media-making in late July as part of PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs’ (SRL) four-day broadcast training workshop in Arlington, Va. Attendees created the following short current events lessons based on SRL’s latest video series, “Art in Real Life,” about the significance of public art in local communities.
Directions: First, watch the Student Reporting Labs compilation video above on “Art in Real Life.” Then have students choose one or two (or more!) of the videos below and answer the discussion questions.
Video #1: “These giant guitar statues show off Austin’s energy”
Craig Hein’s “Vibrancy” sculpture is another addition to the tens of guitar statues around Austin. The guitars reflect the unique flavor that fits the local character.
Produced by PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs in Westwood High School in Austin, Texas.
Lesson by Leigh Walters, (Hall High School, Little Rock, Arkansas); Mary Dunn (EC3/College and Career Center, Elizabethtown, Kentucky); Isabel Espinoza, (Pease Communications and Technology Academy, Midland, Texas); and Kent McCutcheon, Antioch High School, Antioch, CA)
1. Essential question: Why is public art important to a community?
2. In what ways does public art reflect the culture of the city?
3. Media literacy: Based on your interaction with this piece, what conclusions can you draw about this community?
Video #2: “Combining food and art, this cafe is definitely Insta-worthy”
Honey Art Cafe encourages young artists to pursue their passions.
Produced by PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs at Jersey Village High School in Houston, Texas.
Lesson by Abri Nelson (Washington-Liberty High School, Arlington, Va.), Shari Adwers (Loudoun Valley High School, Purcellville, Va.) and Clint Stephens (Southwest Educational Development Center, Cedar City, Utah)
1. Essential question: How does public art help community members to connect with one another?
2. Are there any places within your community that function like Honey Art Cafe?
3. What is the value of “third spaces” — locations other than work or home where people spend time and collaborate?
4. How can collaboration help individuals reach their goals? Can you think of an example in your own life in which working with others made a project successful?
5. Media literacy: What questions do you still have after watching this video that were not addressed?
Video #3: “This artist donated a 30-foot statue to his local high school”
Local artist, Harry Bachman, donated a 30-foot statue to his local high school where students were then given the opportunity to personalize the statue.
Produced by PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs at Caesar Rodney High School in Camden, Delaware
Lesson by Ivan Olinghouse (Hedrick Middle School, Medford, Oregon); Vilma Zefran (TC Williams High School, Alexandria, Va.); and Joe B. Wright (Southwest Educational Development Center, Utah)
1. Essential question: What is the impact of public art on civic engagement?
2. How does the school administration’s response influence the artist?
3. As a school community, how can we develop a process for growing art and community engagement?
4. Media literacy: How does this video encourage other local artists to get more involved in their local community?
Video #4: “Mermaids improve marine life in Florida”
The 1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project & Gallery of 1000 Mermaids is a massive public EcoArt project which aims to revitalize and replace vanishing reef populations as well as support marine life. The artificial reef installation will also serve as an underwater eco-friendly destination for tourism and research.
Produced by PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs at Pine Crest School in Florida with station support from South Florida PBS.
Lesson by Gavin Bernard (re:imagine/ATL, Atlanta, GA); Nikki Vrandenburg (Montana PBS, Bozeman, MT); Darcy Bakkegard (Prairie Public Broadcasting, Fargo, ND); Sarah Oberholtzer (Free Spirit Media, Chicago, IL)
1. Essential question: What impact has public art made on this community?
2. What role do artificial reefs serve for marine ecosystems?
3. How does the use of visually appealing art change the impact of the project?
4. How can STEAM courses help solve global issues?
5. Media literacy: Whose perspective isn’t represented in this story?
Video #5: “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…giant bat?”
Sculptor Dale Whistler created a sculpture that can withstand 100-mph winds.
Produced by PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs at Westwood High School in Austin, Texas.
Lesson by Christopher Harper (Rising Starr Middle School, Fayetteville, GA); Michelle E. Dyer (Surrattsville High School, Clinton, Maryland); Sara Jones (Titusville High School, Titusville, PA)
1. Essential question: How might art help change our preconceived notions about the people who live in our communities?
2. Why did Whistler choose bats as the subject of his sculpture?
3. How did the artist address the wind issue in Austin with his sculpture? How can art teach students about weather science?
4. Media literacy: What additional questions would you ask Whistler about the development happening in the area and how it prompted the sculpture?
Video #6: “Rethinking Graffiti in Knox-ill”
Knox-ill is a collective of graffiti artists that work with business and building owners to conduct large-scale public artworks.
Produced by PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs at Smoky Mountain Youth Media in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Lesson by Kristyn Bomberg from WGVU Public Media in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Benjamin Garcia from Southern Oregon Public Television in Medford, Oregon; and Ryan Hendricks from Wisconsin Public Television from Madison, Wisconsin.
1. Essential question: What value might graffiti bring to the public square?