Water World (Grades 5-6)

April 23-28, 2017
Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington

A Full Immersion Arts & Science Experience…

Water World was amazing because the aquatic learning involves art, movement, and writing allowing for the interests of all my students. They leave charged up and excited about the learning. ~ Stephanie Agnew, West Valley City School

Water World, a dynamic collaboration between Centrum and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, is filled with activities and projects that expand and enhance elementary students’ experience of the marine world through the lenses of both science and art.

In collaboration with artists, scientists, and peers from across the state, students integrate scientific investigations with creative writing, dance, and visual art. The result is a multi-faceted, full immersion learning experience.

Students work in small groups that rotate through activities in the field as well as in laboratories, performance studios, and natural history exhibits. Each day offers a mix of both scientific and artistic workshops. The group size is small to allow for maximum personal attention and minimum impact on fragile environments.

Evening programs include storytelling, activities at the Marine Science Center, and a student presentation on the final night, showcasing new learning about marine ecosystems and sharing artistic creations.

Tuition, room and board is $500, and scholarships are available. For this program, student groups of 4 to 6 sign up with an adult chaperone. Tuition, room and board is free for chaperones. Scholarship Deadline: March 14, 2016; Notifications the week of March 21.


Waterworld-beach-exploration Nature’s Creative Process
Drawing, doodling, tinkering and painting become the tools at hand to discover the marine world when Darwin works with young artists and scientists. Use new discoveries about fish, plankton, whales, insects, and geology (and more!) in your art and in an artist’s handmade journal. Darwin guides you in how to use observation with a variety of materials in a creative process informed by nature.

Writing Workshops
Team up with friends to write things you never knew you could imagine. Tell your stories in dialogues, poems, comic books, scenes, and songs. Create characters based on starfish, otters, eagles, deer, and all the other animals you will see, feel, and hear this week; get tips on plots and where to find them.

Bio-Art—It’s Alive!
If art imitates life, how do we imitate “aliveness”? In this workshop we will explore the lively terrain between art and play and human and nature. Using our original instruments, body and voice, and our natural imitative abilities, we will study how nature shapes itself (waves, weather, erosion, plant and animal forms, life and death cycles, etc.) and how humans use story, poetry, music and dance to reflect the natural world.

The Port Townsend Marine Science inquiry activities focus on hands-on learning about the wonders of the Salish Sea ecosystem.

Plankton Lab
During this inquiry lab, students become scientists working together to collect a sample from the Marine Science Center’s dock and then use microscopes to discover, identify and draw the life teaming in a drop of water. Much of what they will discover in the sample is plankton, which is the basis of the marine food web in Puget Sound. Discussions touch on the role of plankton in the marine food web, plankton adaptation, distribution of plankton world-wide, and/or the chemistry of plankton growth in the Puget Sound.

Introduction to Invertebrates
Marine invertebrates make up some of the most interesting and colorful members of Puget Sound’s marine life. Students will explore touch-tanks filled with local invertebrates, observing the strategies these organisms use for feeding, movement and protection. From their observations, students define the basic characteristics of four major invertebrate groups. Finally, they choose an animal and create a detailed scientific drawing.

Science in the Field
During one full day outdoors, students explore three different aquatic environments – a freshwater pond, brackish lagoon and the shore of the open ocean.  Through observation of plants and animals, water quality measurements and group discussion, students learn to recognize the characteristics of each habitat.  In the process, they also develop a deeper awareness of the importance of wild, undisturbed habitats, and the best ways to live in harmony with nature.

Other class content will integrate current issues, sustainability and scientific research of the Salish Sea.



Darwin-Nordin Darwin Nordin is an accomplished visual artist whose work includes drawings, paintings and sculpture that reflect his fascination with nature. Darwin’s twenty-five-year career as a teaching artist is centered-around the creative process.

He has worked collaboratively with poets, writers, actors, dancers, filmmakers and set designers. He has facilitated the creation of large mixed media artworks for organizations like the Seattle Children’s Museum, the Port of Seattle, the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Museum of Glass.

He is an arts integration consultant and provides professional development to teachers and teaching artists.   

Nisi-Shawl Pacific Northwest-based writer Nisi Shawl’s first story collection, Filter House, won the 2009 James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award, and she has twice been nominated for the 2009 World Fantasy Award.

A popular Water World teacher returning for her fourth year, Nisi has also worked with Pacific Northwest Blues in the Schools, and Seattle’s Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas’ youth programs.

Shawl also writes book reviews for the Seattle Times and Ms. Magazine. 

Christian Swenson wildThe Seattle Times calls Christian Swenson a “one-man animal kingdom” and he’s known for his
pioneering work in fusing dance, drama, and music for body and voice. Christian has performed and taught throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and Nepal.

He was “The Monster” in the Minnesota Opera’s production of Frankenstein, has appeared at New York’s Lincoln Center, and has been featured with the New York Improvisation Festival with The Flying Karamazov Brother’s New Old Time Chautauqua.  His work has also been featured on NPR.


Nancy Israel is the Summer Camp Director and Marine Program Educator at Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

She has been Education Director for Sound Experience aboard the Schooner Adventuress, Captain/Instructor for Northwest Maritime Center, Captain and Mate for Salish Sea Expeditions, and a Field Instructor at Olympic Park Institute.



Scientists from Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC) engage and inspire people of all ages in understanding and protecting our coastal and marine environment. Through its various programs, the Center teaches respect for and stewardship of the myriad life forms in that environment. PTMSC creates active and involving educational experiences for groups, with a particular emphasis on youth. The Center also offers professional development and curriculum design for teachers. Through exhibits, programs, and publications featuring local marine and shoreline habitat, history, flora, and fauna, PTMSC encourages understanding of and participation in local, national, and international decisions impacting the marine and shoreline environment.



For this program, student groups of four to six sign up with an adult chaperone. Groups may come from school districts, with teachers and school staff chaperoning, or they may be formed by parent committees looking for extra opportunities in the arts and sciences for their children. Tuition, room and board is free for chaperones.

This program is generously funded by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Additional sponsors include the Washington State Arts Commission, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, The Baker Foundation, ecotrust, The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, The Forest Foundation, Rayonier Foundation, Jubilation Foundation, McEachern Foundation, JCCF Fund for Women and Girls, the Congdon Hanson Family, and nearly a thousand individual donors whose generosity celebrates the power of creativity to change lives.