I got to be a small part of an interesting project on my last day at Advanced Learning Academy. One of my colleagues, Dan Mallette, teaches a class for the high school students called, “Global Changemakers.” Inspired by the World Art Drop Day in which the Southwest School of Art participates annually, Dan tasked his students to each create two works of art based on the Sustainable Development Goals each student had chosen to study. About a week before Art Drop Day, they started advertising #alaartdropday on our web announcements, and encouraged the school community to follow the Instagram account for our makerspace/studio (@studiozorro). On the day of the Art Drop, I was able to accompany a couple of the groups of students as they took their pieces of art to different spots around campus to “hide” them. Once a student found the perfect spot for his/her art, we took a picture of it in its location, trying to include a couple of clues to its surroundings, and posted the picture of the artwork on Instagram with the #alaartdropday tag. Any student or teacher who was interested in one of the masterpieces could try to find it based on the clues in the Instagram picture, and claim it as their own.
The students had a great time hiding their artwork (one piece ended up on the railing inside the elevator). It was the perfect activity for the last day before Winter Break – allowing the students to get out of the classrooms and to come up with devious ways to camouflage their pieces while leaving them in plain sight. A couple of staff members I ran into were excited about trying to find particular artworks that spoke to them that they hoped to display in their classrooms.
Finding a way to give students a larger audience than just the teacher and their classmates can be challenging. This was a unique way to achieve that goal, and I hope that it will become an annual tradition at the school.
In the past, I have taught students about biomimicry/biomimetics, in which designers use inspiration from nature to create new products. (The Youth Design Challenge is a great place to find resources for this.) Biodesign takes things one step further by actually incorporating nature, often still living, into innovative artifacts that can be purely for decoration or serve specific purposes.
I first became aware of biodesign when I ran across a website for The Nest Makespace. The unusual images on the home page intrigued me. (I admit that I thought the “bioyarn” designs were actually made out of worms, but it turns out that it’s probably more like this material.)
The Nest Makespace offers some fascinating project ideas here. I am hoping that more lesson plans will be linked soon. In the meantime, you can find more suggestions on the Resource page.
For a “Peek at the Possibilities of Biodesign,” click on this link, or watch the embedded video below.
My students have done agamographs in the past, but I always called them “pictures that show two perspectives.” It’s nice to learn there is an official name for these that has fewer syllables. There are many ways to integrate this art form into other subjects – showing cause and effect in science or literature, or different historical perspectives, for example. To see great directions for making agamographs, check out this set from Babble Dabble Do. You can see some beautiful examples made by middle school students here. If you are ready to hop on trying this out, you might want to consider making agamograph Valentines.
Of course, if you Google “agamograph” you will find many more examples. Apparently everyone on the internet knew what they were called except me 😉
As seasoned readers may know, I have always been intrigued by the beauty of math. (See here, here, or here for some examples.) Now that my job title is S.T.E.A.M. Master Teacher, I have been looking even more for ideas on how to integrate math and art.
Math Craft is a great place to start. From mathematical knitting to Sierpinski Christmas trees, there is no shortage of inspiration on this site (though it is a bit heavy on polyhedrons). Not every post gives you instructions, as some of them feature work by professional artists – but you could always pose the question to your students, “How do you think they made this?” They may end up making something completely different, but equally as beautiful, along the way.
You have less than 2 days to vote for this year’s Doodle 4 Google contest winners. This year’s theme is , “What inspires me.” This is a great opportunity to show your students the incredible creativity that is exemplified by the chosen finalists from K-12. And, even though the deadline to enter has passed, you can take advantage of the free educator materials to guide your students as they create their own Google doodles. Are you done with standardized testing for the year? Looking for ways to engage your students as the school year comes to a close? This is definitely one way to do it!
My 4th grade students are currently studying mathematical masterpieces. I love showing them examples of the intersection of math and art. When I saw a tweet yesterday morning from @TheKidShouldSeeThis with a link to the video of John Edmark’s spiral geometries, I knew right away that they would want to watch the video. It weirdly connected with the magical drawbridge from yesterday’s video, so I showed that part to them first. We have already talked about Fibonacci and the Golden Spiral, so they immediately found ways to connect both videos to their learning.
Since the students have also been using Scratch coding, I found a Scratch project for making spirals. First we looked “inside” to decipher the code. Then the students explored running the program. After that, I talked about creative constraints, and gave them the challenge of changing one and only one part of the code to see how it made the program run differently. They recorded the results of their new programs and the class tried to guess what variable each student changed based on the videos. Then I gave them time to freely remix however many parts of the program they liked.
This was one of those times that the students could happily have explored all day. It was their first time remixing a program, and they delighted in trying to take it to the extremes by putting ridiculous numbers in to see how large or small or non-existent their spirals became. Some of them created spirals so tiny that they appeared to be flowers blooming as they popped on to the Scratch stage.
And I still haven’t blown their mind with this Vi Hart video yet. With the school year almost over, we may have to take this unit into their 5th grade year. There is so much beauty in math, and we have barely scratched the surface!
And I absolutely adore the snow shovel art done by Cindy Chinn. You can see more images in this article, and you can visit her Etsy store here. Thanks to Cindy for giving me permission to include this picture/ (If you like her snow shovel art, you should also check out her pencil carvings!)