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West Linn and Wilsonville kids learn about science and beauty through hands-on activities.

PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - Alden Deets' love of mushrooms inspired his clay pot. Campers at the Center for Research in Environmental Sciences and Technologies, commonly known as CREST, learned just how beautiful nature can be during a camp held last week.

The weeklong camp included daily activities that blended nature and art. Some days, the campers went on a nature hike and drew scenery or animals they met along the way. Other days, the students created art materials from natural components.

During the camp session Friday, July 29, CREST taught the children about the importance of clay in nature and how it can be made into something beautiful, like art.

Among the 20 or so campers, there wasn't a pair of hands, T-shirt or face that wasn't covered in clay within the first hour of the camp.

The students spent their morning making clay-coil pots; some took a more artistic route.

Despite the busy room, Mae Huston tuned out the noise and hunched over her heart-shaped pot, diligently smoothing the ridges on her curved coils. PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - Mae Huston made a pot with tiny hearts scattered around the coils.

Huston, a rising third grader, said she liked learning about nature during the week, as well as the hands-on activities. But making the clay pot was her favorite part.

"I'm making a heart pot that I'm going to put candy inside," she said. "I joined the camp because I already like art … (and) I want to learn more about the Earth."

PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - CREST campers learned how to blend nature and art through various activities.

Across the room, volunteer Reed Jordan helped a camper guide their coil around a clay base.

Not too long ago, Jordan was a CREST camper himself. Now a sophomore at West Linn High School, he signed up to volunteer because he thinks it is essential to teach people the joys of nature and science at a young age.

"The more you understand about nature, the most you understand the world … and how to help our future," he said.

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