Do you remember the first time you saw pewter liquify before your eyes, pressed your fingerprint in clay, or watched smoke rise as you wood burned your own unique design?

On Thursday, The Crucible opened its doors to 227 Oakland Unified School District youth for free as a part of our Field Trip Program. This program offers youth a valuable opportunity to see the industrial arts firsthand. With demonstrations in twelve areas, students explored Glass Flameworking, Glass Blowing, Welding, Blacksmithing, Jewelry, Foundry, Bicycles, Neon, Woodcarving, and Torch Cutting.

Jaden holds a blow torch for the first time in our Foundry.

Some lucky students, including eight-year-old Jaden, even got to participate in the demos themselves. In our Foundry Department, Jaden held a blowtorch for the first time, as our Foundry instructor, Denise Snaer-Gauder guided her in melting pewter. “Jaden was first in line and had her hand waving in the air to get a chance to hold the torch. She was cautious at first, but she lit up once the pewter melted in front of her eyes,” Denise recalled. “If I can light a spark of inspiration, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I love the empowerment of youth, especially when young girls grasp it and they feel in control, whether it is using a torch or pouring metal into their own sculpture.”

Redwood Heights students keep their torch cut letters after a demonstration in Welding.

In some demonstrations, the students even get to take home a souvenir! “The Torch Cutting demonstration was a favorite because the instructor asked one of the kids for the letter suggestion to cut from the steel, and let him keep the finished product. They appreciate that they get to visit for free, and on top of that, walk away with a small souvenir,” Becky, a chaperone explained. “We appreciate The Crucible for making the arts accessible for so many Oakland public school kids.”

Research supported by the National Endowment for the Arts has found that art-related field trips can significantly increase test scores. A research team at University of Arkansas compared students’ standardized test scores from before art-related field trips with those taken afterwards, and found that the class that attended three field trips had scores that rose 12.4% on standardized tests. “Thinking with complex ideas in nuanced ways and understanding that there are more kinds of answers than right or wrong –– that there are layered ambiguities in meaning. Art does that,” Lois Hetland, Art Education professor at MassArt, explained in a recent Artsy article

Field Trip Day is only a taste of what Oakland youth can delve into at The Crucible. Our upcoming youth summer camps are filling up quickly! “The environment is safe, super creative, and fun. James is begging to come back this summer for camp,” a parent chaperone shared with us. There are still spots in our Youth Summer Camps, and youth scholarships available for Bay Area youth who would otherwise be unable to attend.

Our April Field Trip Day has left us already excited for May! On May 31, over  350 Bay Area youth will visit for an inspiring, educational day exploring the industrial arts. Interested in your child attending? There are still afternoon slots open – register your school here.

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