Rain barrels painted by OCPS middle and high school students.

Thousands of Orange County Public School students every year learn the art of conserving water by participating in OUC’s Water Color Project. The education outreach initiative seeks to inspire students in grades 4 through 12 to create artworks depicting themes related to water conservation.

Elementary students enter drawings for the 13 display pages on OUC’s Water Conservation Calendar, with judging by OUC, CityArts Factory and OCPS staff deciding the cover and monthly art placements.

Meanwhile, middle and high school students working as teams paint rain barrels that are judged in six categories — Best Rain Barrel Overall, Best Water Conservation Theme, Best Florida Theme, Best Orlando/Orange County Theme, Best Environmental/Eco-Friendly Theme and CityArts Factory’s choice. All rain barrels are later entered into a silent auction among OUC employees and OCPS staff, with the proceeds going to winning schools’ art programs.

Fabiana R., a senior at Lake Nona High School, paints nature scenes on a rain barrel. Lake Nona High took home the Most Creative Award for its 2018-2019 Water Color Project entry.

“Teachers see the Water Color Project as a great concept to teach students about conservation,” says Christy Garton, OCPS visual arts resource teacher for K-12 education. “The [conservation] message is great for the community and the students.”

The Water Color Project winners are awarded each year in April. The 13 elementary school students whose drawings were picked for the calendar receive gift cards and plaques displaying their drawings. Each winning middle and high school teams of the rain barrel painting receive a plaque displaying their rain barrel and gift cards.  Art teachers of winning students also receive gift cards.

Check out the video below for a virtual tour of select barrels from this year’s competition, currently displayed at CityArts in downtown Orlando.