Bulb Archived: A/R Partners 2016-2017: Rovito & Terry

1. How did you and your teaching partner decide to do this project? (Please describe the context of your project, this can include influence from previous projects, context of your school, community, etc.):

In Kerrie’s science class, she tries to incorporate engineering as much as possible into the science units.  Using engineering allows students to understand the concepts deeper because they use the science they are learning about and makes it more personal to them because they have the ability to manipulate variables and problem solve using what they have learned in class.

For the 6th grade Earth science unit on weather, students were building weather anemometers to measure wind speed and direction. Gwen had the idea of building upon this concept so that students could measure things within their own lives and their emotions. In doing this, students would be building pathometers, meters that measured Pathos.

2. Big Idea:

Transfers of energy form one form into another and how is it measured.  

3. Inquiry:

How can sculpture stimulate and define/measure emotions? How can you discover and reveal a relationship between something that is not physical with a definable object?

4. Grade Level:

This project was done with 29 6th grade students.

5. Academic Subject(s):

The academic subject this project was done in was an Earth Science classroom.

6. Artistic Discipline(s):

The artistic discipline use was sculpture.

7. How many years have you worked together as partners?:

This is the first year Kerrie Rovito and Gwen Terry have worked together.

8. Please describe your project:

Students began by learning about weather patterns and atmosphere in our science class. 

Next, students built anemometers. They were given materials, but no instructions. They had to make a working anemometer or wind vane that was able to show me how fast the wind was moving or the direction the wind was blowing.

Gabriella and Oliver building the base for their anemometer.
Trying to make their base stable enough to not blow over in the wind.
Working to make the anemometers high enough to capture the wind.
Brainstorming how to make their anemometer turn more freely in the wind.

Next, students took what they learned from this engineering project and worked to design their own pathometer, a sculpture that would measure emotions. They brainstormed what changes weather patterns, and how those could be displayed through their own lives. Everyone started with their  base, which represented themselves, and built off of their base to show how different elements in their life affect the way they respond and move.


9. What were you hoping the students would learn during this project?:

In doing this project, we were hoping that students would learn problem solving skills, how to take abstract ideas and make them concrete, and apply what they are learning in science  to their own emotions and life. 

10. What surprised you during this project?:

 What surprised me was the Final product.   This is an extremely large class (30+) and we were working with plaster, wire,  paper pulp and paint, with only 2 adult facilitators in the room. As an outsider I was new to the classroom dynamics and we had a few days without Kerrie, to help navigate an refocus the students,  so we both weren’t didn’t know what we were going to have physically to show for their efforts. On the last day we were surprised by how thoughtful their work was and how it came together.

11. What worked in this project and why?: 

Exposure to the process of open ended exploration and discovery, that doesn’t promote or praise a correct answer, in an environment in which 9 times out of 10 there is always a right answer. We found that this touched in on the concept of  ‘failure’ for many of the students, who were concerned and frustrated, that they couldn’t make there vision in there head a reality. They were challenged by the idea that their work would look ‘bad’ and not like it ‘should’, and the idea of adapting there idea/vision was seen as a ‘failure’. Most of the students never had exposure to these materials and processes before. We focused on exposing them to the concept of editing and adapting their vision around the the known parameters they had to work within, as well as, the elements they discoveries through exploring and playing with the material.  By the end of the project they were invested and surprised by the end product, which was the result of the processes and energy that they had put into them. 

12. What didn’t work and why?:

There were a couple of things that Gwen and I found did not work as we went through these projects. The first is that students had a hard time connecting Earth elements to their own life. For example, when we said, “What is your air?” and explained that air allows you to breathe and also moves anemometers, students had a hard time connecting this abstract concept to their emotions. 

The next thing that did not work as we planned was the actual building process. Students wanted to represent a lot of emotions, but when this is shown visually, it can weigh down the sculptures. It took a lot of modifying and choosing of the most important elements to keep in order for the sculptures to stay up.

13. What was your approach to assessment for this project?:

The approach for our assessment was to give students a brainstorming packet ahead of their build so we could discuss with each of them and formatively assess their understanding of the concepts. 

The questions that we asked students were:

If you are air:

– What represents your earth?

– What represents your sun?

– What causes your earth’s rotation? (What makes you move?)

– What causes your high pressure? How do you respond/react to it?

– What causes your low pressure? How do you respond/react to it?

– What keeps you strong and steady? How do you respond/react to it?

– What makes you weak and non moving? How do you respond/react to it?

– How do you measure your reactions?

-Consider how your answers will effect the material and composition choices you make in the construction of your pathometer.


14. How did you share your student’s learning process with others? Who did you share it with?:

We shared this learning process with parents through pictures and at conferences. Parents will also be invited to the Convergence gallery to see their child’s work.

15. Did sharing your students’ learning occur according to your plan for social engagement in your proposal? Why or why not? Please explain.

Since this is our first year working together and planning we didn’t have a diffinative plan for social engagement. We had other classroom engagement with the pieces in the form of peer to peer interest and curiosity.

16. How are you as teachers, artists and students social engagers through this work?:

As an artist and educator we are social engagers through example, openness, and approach to the content of our work. Listening and responding authentically to the students interest and concerns and applying it, when appropriate to issues in the world at large, open us up as a community to approach the content of our work in a dynamic and engaging way.

17. Did sharing your project with others influence how you will approach future projects?:


18. Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, National Core Arts):

The Next Generation Science Standards that were addressed with this project were:

MS-PS2-2. Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.

MS-PS2-5. Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to provide evidence that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact.

MS-ESS2-5. Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses results in changes in weather conditions.

MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.

MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.

MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.