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SOAR Profile - Colleen Hait

Name: Colleen Hait 
Major/minor: Art Education
Expected date of graduation: Spring 2015 
Hometown: Oneonta, N.Y. 
Activities: RA, tour guide with the Twenty-Six Points Ambassadors, treasurer of the National Art Education Association, and big sister with the Lehigh Valley branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters 
Project title: Working from life: Investigating the best practices for teaching children to construct their own drawing and painting strategies in a summer camp 
Project advisor: Kristin Baxter

To some people Colleen Hait’s SOAR project might seem like the toughest to date: hosting a weeklong art camp for 24 – yes, two dozen – enthusiastic children. While the assignment was a tall task, Colleen, and her SOAR partner, Caitlyn Heil ’16, earned rave reviews.

For Colleen, this year’s SOAR project mirrored her 2012 SOAR experience – which was exactly what she was looking for. “I had such a great experience running the summer camp last year that I wanted to experience the same great opportunity again,” she says.

This time around, Colleen and Caitlyn investigated why children of a certain age range draw particular ways. For instance, why are students reluctant to overlap objects? And why do they draw as though the image is an X-ray, showing both the inside and the outside at the same time?

“We wrote a weeklong curriculum that incorporated several drawings so that we could see the drawing process, the skills that the students were entering camp with, and the skills that students were leaving camp with,” Colleen explains. The week was full of other projects that focused on artistic elements: shape, space, color, and line; elements that, when understood, would expand the students’ repertoires, giving them the tools to create more realistic pieces of art.

Students and parents both gave the camp two thumbs up, with several of the children expressing interest in returning to camp the following summer. While the feedback was inspiring, the research outcomes were a little muddy.

“As for our research, it was difficult to stick to the still life drawings that we based the camp off of,” Colleen explains. “The students were enthused by the art projects, but they took a creative route that strayed from the one we had anticipated.”

Following their research project, Colleen and Caitlyn continued to make revisions to their curriculum in hopes of publishing it for other art educators. The duo also created a Prezi presentation at this fall’s Pennsylvania Art Education Association conference in Bethlehem.

Colleen, who plans to become an elementary art teacher, expects her research experience to be valuable when she works in her own classroom in the future.