Pascagoula students use art, architecture to create playground structure

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) – Some students at Eastlawn Elementary School in Pascagoula were the first to try-out the latest addition to their playground Friday. It's a structure that mixes art, architecture, and a lot of imagination.

"It's wonderful just getting to experience, just get on it and play," said fifth grader Stephen Arroyo.

"Our playground really doesn't have that much stuff on it, and this adds a lot and it's pretty cool," said fifth grader Kaitlyn Parker.

The one-of-a-kind club house and gazebo was built with help from Environmental Science students at Pascagoula High. It all came about after the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art received a $5,000 grant from Northrop Grumman. The museum teamed-up with Gulf Coast Community Design Studio. And for four months, the pros worked side-by-side with the Pascagoula High students on the Art in Architecture Program.

"They were directed by the architects and they did anything that they could that was within reason and safe. But they did a good majority of the work. They also came up with the design. We started thinking about nests and bird things and so the Eagle's Nest is what this project became," said Noel Anderson, Education Coordinator for the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum.

The platform is shaped like an egg. Eventually, materials will be placed around it to resemble a nest. The structure was made with wood, pipes, concrete, and recycled products.

"It's been a lot of fun, and it's really taught me a lot about architecture. Now I see that architecture is an art form," said Pascagoula High junior Payton Green.

They got their inspiration from lectures, field trips, and input from the elementary children.

"The ideas that you kids had were just amazing! In fact, I'm still trying to figure out how to put chocolate in this," said the lead architect.

"When we envisioned it, it was just a whole bunch of different ideas going around. And just to see them get on it and explore it and look at it, it was really nice. It felt really good that we helped build it," said Pascagoula High sophomore Genesis Smith.

The gazebo is not quite finished yet.  It still needs stairs leading to the second level and a handicapped-accessible ramp. Those projects should take about a week to complete.

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