Teacher's Blend of Art, Science Earn Recognition

Article excerpt

Shannon Merenstein did not have a background in science when she interviewed for a job at the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park the summer before it opened in 2008.

But the graduate of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn knew she wanted to find a way to use her training as an artist to help children understand science.

"I was really excited and motivated to be an art teacher," said Merenstein, 26, of Lawrenceville. "But it's always been really important to me that art and science be connected, so students can learn scientific concepts by making art."

Merenstein's ability to meld the disciplines won recognition by the Carnegie Science Center, which selected her to receive a Carnegie Science Award in the Elementary Educator category.

"The ... awards spotlight some of the most innovative minds today," said Ron Baillie, the center's co-director. "These individuals are making a global impact, starting with our own region. We know they are already inspiring a new generation of leaders."

Merenstein began mixing art and science in the classroom by including rudimentary science lessons about land forms while teaching students how to draw the foreground, middleground and background of a picture, she said. …