ArtsinStark’s “Genius Project Rally” Set for April 27

ArtsinStark has spent the last nine years developing the SmArts Program.  Its goal is to integrate science and art in schools to supercharge learning.  Today SmArts is in every one of the 17 public school districts in Stark County and all the Catholic Middle and Elementary Schools.  “The county arts council has invested over $500,000 bringing SmArts to 30,000 kids,” says ArtsinStark board chair Emil Alecusan.  Three years ago the success of SmArts led to the birth of the Northeast Ohio Genius Project: an 8-week science, art, and financial literacy competition for middle schools.  On Thursday April 27, the Cultural Center for the Arts will host 70 teams from across the region competing in this year’s “Genius Rally.”  According to Dave Grabowsky, Chair of the 2017 Annual Arts Campaign, which has raised $1,075,000 to date, or 65% of its $1,650,000 goal, “Building America’s 21st century super-creative workforce is exactly what the arts are about.”  More information is available at  or 330-453-1075.

In February, 70 middle school teams received this year’s genius challenge in a box delivered to their school.  Inside were the written challenge, along with two bundles of raffia, bamboo sticks, rocks, clay, a coconut, acrylic paint, and a plastic bag.   Using only the materials in the box – plus their own scissors, pens, pencils, cell phones, and their library – students had to solve a challenge related to being marooned on a tropical island prone to heavy rain, wind, flooding, and many wild animals.  Students had to create the model for an elevated shelter, and find ways to gather food and protect themselves from the sun.  And for each part of the challenge, there were specific measurements for success.  For example, the team’s elevated shelter model had to be a minimum height and width, contain so many right angles, and be able to bear the weight of one coconut.

The importance of the Genius Project is supported by research that shows that scientists that win the Noble Prize are up to 25 times more likely to be involved in the arts.  The Genius Project helps teachers learn to integrate science and art.  “We believe in the power of the arts to develop critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities,” says Kimberly Phillips, ArtsinStark’s Director of Education.  “Every year our challenge, which is based on State of Ohio Learning Standards for Math, Science and Art — is meant to bring out the genius inside us all.”

BACKGROUND:  ArtsinStark — Kids, Jobs, Communities.   We are a 47 year old private, non-profit organization that gives out grants, manages the Cultural Center, and runs the Annual Arts Campaign — and much more (Canton Arts District, First Fridays, SmArts Program in the schools, 20/20 Vision, and the ELEVEN).  More at  Our annual budget is $3 million.   What we don’t earn, we raise each spring through the Annual Arts Campaign.  In May 2016 the Campaign became the only united arts fund drive in America to ever make goal for 11 years in a row.  (Over the last decade we have increased private sector giving to the arts by 85%.)