The Aiken Center for the Arts will be hosting the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at the USC Aiken’s inaugural “Through the Eyes of a Child” student photography exhibit in their Brooks Gallery, located at 122 Laurens St., July 29 thorugh Sept. 3.
“Through the Eyes of a Child” is a comprehensive STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) program that provides children an opportunity to investigate and document the nature they see around them. The program aims to inspire youth to get outside more, discover their natural world and take digital photos of their discoveries using a cellphone, tablet or camera.
“Today, competition for a child’s attention is fierce, and they are spending less time outdoors than ever before,” noted John Hutchens, director of special programs at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at USC Aiken. “Many people blame this disconnect from nature on addiction to screens and gadgets. Digital photography can actually capitalize on their fascination with devices to teach them about nature – and maybe even inspire them to protect it.”
Each program participant received a Discovery Pack: an eco-friendly backpack filled with a water bottle, pencil and nature discovery guides. The discovery guides served to direct their adventures and identify organisms and objects of interest that they could easily photograph in a yard, neighborhood, park, etc.
Participants explored Hitchcock Woods, Silver Bluff Audubon Center and Sanctuary and the North Augusta Brick Pond Park, where they took photographs, learned about patterns in nature and more. The program also granted students an opportunity to “meet the professionals” and gain in-depth knowledge about digital photography, nature conservation and ecosystems.
“Children who have access to nature are better learners,” Hutchens said. “Exposure to nature has been shown to reduce stress and increase attention spans. When a child is out in nature, all the senses get activated. They are immersed in something bigger than themselves, rather than focusing narrowly on one thing, such as a computer screen. They are seeing, hearing, touching, even tasting. Out in nature, a child’s brain has the chance to rejuvenate, so the next time they have to focus and pay attention, perhaps in school, they’ll do better.”
The program culminates in the “Through the Eyes of a Child” student photography exhibit.
Generous funding for this program is provided by: Dr. Rose Lee Hayes, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, SRP Credit Union and Quality Printing and Graphics.
Program partners include Hitchcock Woods Foundation, North Augusta Brick Pond Park, Silver Bluff Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Aiken Center for the Arts and North Augusta Arts and Heritage Center.
An opening reception will be held Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at the Aiken Center for the Arts.