summer art/math

Cards, Compasses and Lights with Teenagers, Summer 2019

Yesterday was my first of six weekly meetings with rising eighth graders and their two college-sophomore camp counselors. This is not an age group that I’ve worked with extensively, so I’m challenged to try to come up with projects that I hope they find compelling. These teenagers are doing art projects with dynamic teaching artists arts on other days of the week, as well as doing nature activities. This program here in Salem NY is invested in giving these young people a great summer experience.

Turns out that nearly all these kids like math. I wasn’t expecting this! But maybe it explains how quickly they took to this week’s project.

Practicing with making circles
Practicing with using a compass to make circles

We started out by making a number of patterns in different ways, Then I broke out the compasses. It didn’t surprise me that they didn’t have experience with them, and that they were awkward with the tool at first, but what did surprise me was how quickly they picked up the skill of making circles with the compasses. I definitely didn’t rush through the process of letting them find their own rhythm with the compass, but, still, it was impressive how they worked through the unfamiliarity.

They lost no time creating patterns.

There was a hush over the room as they worked on responding to their designs with color.

When they were finished with the coloring, many immediately started creating a second piece.

They knew, though, that I’d be asking them to punch a hole in the center of their design to wire their art for light!

I’ve been wanting to do a lighting project for a long time! This was such the perfect group to do it with.

Here’s a video explaining the process, of wiring a card for light, which I got from Julia Ross, a former co-worker of mine at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. (Thanks Julia!)

I wondered if anyone would object to punching a hole through the center of their art work. Yeah, a couple of them didn’t want to do this, I encouraged that they make a separate card, doing some simple rotations, then add a light to that, just to have the experience of it.

Press down the corner and the light comes on.
Press down the corner and the light comes on.

Only one person chose to spend the whole time working on the design, and not do any lighting. The fact that he created this unusual, thoughtful and stunning piece made it unthinkable for me to challenge his decision.

So now I have a sense of these young people. I’ll be trying to design projects that are for kids who are open, competent, artistic and mathematical.

This should be interesting!!!

2 thoughts on “Cards, Compasses and Lights with Teenagers, Summer 2019

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