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!)
If you have ever seen a music video by “OK Go,” then you cannot fail to be in awe of the band’s incredible creativity. In every production, you can tell that they spent a lot of time on brainstorming, working hard, and having fun. Even more notable, though, is how much math and science must be used to create these complex feats of artistic expression.
In cooperation with the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas (seriously wish this had been a thing at my university!), OK Go has designed a new website, the OK Go Sandbox, that provides resources for educators to use with students for STEAM activities based on a few of their music videos.
Each of the music videos currently featured on the site has a link to educational materials that include free downloads, challenges for the students, additional videos, and suggested activities. From making flipbooks to experimenting with sounds made by different “found” instruments, this resource explores the astonishing potential of merging science with art. Some of the challenges can be used with the Google Science Journal (a free app available for both Android and iOS).
It looks like this is a dynamic project that is encouraging advice from educators, so be sure to visit this page for more information on how to get involved.
When my students were working on their cardboard mini golf courses, I casually suggested using a Makey Makey to make things interesting – and realized that I hadn’t yet introduced this group of kids to the wonders of this invention tool. When I saw a post from Colleen Graves about making interactive stories and poems using Makey Makey and Scratch, I knew this would be the perfect project for my 4th graders. They are studying literary masterpieces right now, and learning about figurative language. It seemed to be a natural transition from discussing onomatopoeia to designing simple Scratch programs that would allow us to add sounds using the Makey Makey.
After teaching some of the basics of Scratch, I showed the students an onomatopoeia poem to which I had added some heavily penciled symbols (the graphite will conduct if you lay it on pretty thick). I attached the Makey Makey to the symbols and my computer, and started my Scratch program, reading the poem and pressing the symbols at the appropriate moments. Then the students got to choose their own poems from some I had printed out to program in pairs. They got to share their creations on Seesaw, and were pretty excited about the way their projects turned out.
This was just the beginning. Now that the students know the concept, they will be able to apply it to poetry they will be writing in the next couple of weeks. I’m hoping to also guide them toward creating more complex artwork using copper tape or conductive paint for the Makey Makey triggers.
I think these Halloween Paper Circuit templates from Makerspaces.com look like a lot of fun. You can download the templates for free, but will need to purchase the other supplies. The instructions are excellent. I plan to try this with my 3rd graders. Once they learn the concept, I am going to challenge them to light up a picture of their choice to encourage some creativity and give them the opportunity to apply what they have learned about circuits. By the way, if you are looking for some other paper circuit projects, here is a post I did on ones that our Maker Club did.
This post was originally published in 2016. I think it’s a fitting time of year to bring it back.
We all have things that scare us, of course. In the book that my 5th grade gifted students are reading, The Giver, the main character is “apprehensive” about an upcoming event. To help the students connect to the text, I asked them to list some of the things that worry or scare them. Using our green screen and the Green Screen app by DoInk, I had the students superimpose themselves on the image of Edvard Munch’s, The Scream. The students then used the WordFotoapp to add their specific fears to the picture. Here is one result. (You can click on it to see a larger view.)
When I looked closely at this student’s final product, I noticed the word, “division.” I was a little upset because I had told the students not to put silly things just to get a laugh. In my mind, division and multiplication would fall into that category, especially since this particular student has never had any problems achieving well in math.
“Why did you put this word when I told you not to put something silly?” I asked him as I pointed at his picture.
He looked at me solemnly. “I meant the division of people. You know, how war and other things divide us.”
It’s almost September 15th-ish, which means that Dot Day is quickly approaching! For those of you who have not encountered Dot Day before, it is an international event inspired by the Peter Reynolds book, The Dot. It’s all about celebrating creativity and “making your mark”! In last year’s post about Dot Day, I shared a few “new to me” Dot Day ideas for the celebration. This year, Breakout Edu has announced a brand new breakout adventure for elementary and middle school students based on The Dot. Students must solve the clues to set creativity and inspiration free. I recommend doing the breakout activity and then giving your students the opportunity to unleash their own inner artists as a follow-up!