The After School Arts Program, based in Washington and serving northwest Connecticut, recently received a grant in the amount of $25,000.

The grant, from the state Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, is being used to help support ASAP's Inter-district Metamorphosis Project.

The project strives to unite the arts with nature studies and preservation.

The program benefits 115 fourth-grade students from Region 12 schools and at the Forbes School in Torrington.

The project provides arts education opportunities for students where they otherwise would not exist, or have been dramatically reduced due to budget cuts.

IDMP utilizes the arts to build a stronger creative learning system in math, science, writing, and technology, which in turn builds career skills.

Throughout the project, participants come together and create new partnerships, collaborate and share resources.

ASAP's partners for the project are the Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust, Booth Free School in Roxbury, Burnham School in Bridgewater, Washington Primary School and the Forbes School.

ASAP's teaching artists for the IDMP include playwright Natalie Bates, visual artist/set designer Jon Olivieri, costume designer Lesley Neilson-Bowman and movement specialist JoAnne Torti.

Students have spent time learning at each other's schools and have taken a field trip to the Cobble Brook Land Preserve in Kent. Although IDMP is designed to comply with state science guidelines, it goes beyond standard textbook learning.

In the field, students experienced the hidden life of a stream through hands-on activities, including collecting waterbugs, stocking fish and researching animal tracks.

For the project finale, students inspired by their experiences are developing an original performance, written with the help of teaching artist Natalie Bates.

All teaching artists will work with students to create original props, costumes, and choreography portraying what they've learned about the environment and preservation.

The students will perform in each region, giving them the opportunity to share the results of their experiences with their peers, families and the public.