Bulb Archived: A/R Partners 2016-2017: Whitehouse & Stover

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.):

We have worked together on projects that integrated art with engineering. In previous years, we have worked 3rd and 4th graders. This year, due to scheduling and availability, we worked with three 2nd grade classrooms.  Since many engineering projects involve the creation of something, it was an easy next step to incorporate sculpture into the engineering process. 

The second grade engineering project was to create a windmill capable of using wind power to raise a cup filled with washers.  Students worked in teams to develop ideas for windmill design, materials suited for catching the wind, and learn the engineering process of plan, create, and improve the product until it met all the criteria and constraints of the project.  We built on their knowledge of wind power as well as which materials were suitable for catching wind to have teams of students design wind sculptures that moved in the wind.  Each class also had a constraint of theme: things that moved in the water, on land, or in the air.

2. Big Idea:

Integrating engineering with art to explore how sculpture could interact with forces, such as air, in much the same way windmills and turbines do.

Three 2nd grade classes created over 20 sculptural components in Goudy’s mobile-scape.

3. Inquiry:

How can you create a sculpture using forces interacting with the materials?

Students working in teams to plan their sculptures.
Each team kept track of the design process on a class poster. “GTG” means “good to go… to the next step in the process!”
Mobile sculptures in the land and air are moved by a fan–not pictured.

4. Grade Level:

2nd Grade

A team of students design their mobile sculpture

5. Academic Subject(s):


Step one of the process: Imagine the possibilities, and draw them in your journal.
Talking out an idea–how will the ears attach?

6. Artistic Discipline(s):

Kinetic sculpture

Students discussed a few examples of kinetic sculptures that represented and looked like other things in nature such as trees and creatures that move in the sea , land or air. 
A team of students working to create their moving base.
A dragon moving in the wind.

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

This is our third year working together.

Margy Stover and Patty Whitehouse with one 2nd grade class.

8. Please describe your project:

Patty is the Engineering Lab teacher for K-6 students at Goudy, focusing on the engineering part of Goudy’s science curriculum that is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Students in 2nd grade are working with wind forces as part of their weather unit. They create windmills that must fit a particular set of constraints and criteria as described earlier in this project. Once that project is completed, students use what they’ve learned about wind, windmills, materials and engineering design process to create mobile sculptures that move in the wind.  Each class used a different theme for their mobiles.  One class made mobiles that moved as if they were in water when they were blown around by the fan.  A second class created mobiles that represented things that moved on land, and the third class created mobiles that represented things that moved in the air–and space.

 Students used a basic form of the Engineering Design Process to support their plans. The process includes:

Asking Questions about the project to learn about the constraints and criteria for the project: — –What kinds of things move in the water/land/air? 

-Which materials are available? How can I represent things I need with the materials available for use? 

-What does the sculpture need to do? Which parts will move? How do the materials interact? How will I hold up my mobile?

Imagining a Solution to the engineering problem at hand. This is the brainstorming portion of the project. Students sketch their ideas in a journal, share them with their team, and make a decision about which ideas they want to work on.

Making a Plan from the imagined solutions. A plan shows the design, the type, size and quantity of materials needed.

Creating the Sculpture using the plan. This is place where students may find out that the plan needs refining because the sculpture does not work as planned.

Revising/Improving the Sculpture until the constraints and criteria are met to a satisfactory degree. This part of the process may take several iterations, and may send the students back to any prior portion of the process.

Students work on creating their sculptures, based on their plan on paper, foreground.
Plan for creating a jellyfish mobile.
Students improving on how to keep their jellyfish mobile standing.
Many varieties and forms of jellyfish

Jellyfish mobiles in the mobile-scape.

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

We wanted to extend their use of the engineering design process to help students explore how art represents ideas through shape, color, and movement. Through use of form and materials and through the actual movement their sculpture we hoped students could convey their theme of movement in land, sea or air.  

Students generated ideas through exploring materials
Students continually invented new ways to materialize their ideas

Students worked back and forth between 2 dimensional plans and 3 dimensional “sketches” / experiments with materials 

10. What surprised you during this project?:

In the past, we worked with 3rd and 4th graders, who seemed to have a better connection between what they could do and what they wanted to do.  Second graders are still working on that concept, and they had a more difficult time with their mobiles not looking like they originally wanted them to.  What is always surprising is the creativity of students of any age when they are given the opportunity to make use of their imaginations.  The end products were amazing!

A frog with spinning feet moves in the water and on land 
Roadrunner with spinning legs

11. What worked in this project and why?:

Students were their own critics and masters of their mobile design.  In the end, they were able to create a series of mobiles that met the criteria and constraints with a great deal more imagination than we originally anticipated.  Building and designing require less common language, so students with less command of English were able to flourish as designers and builders.

Students worked in varying scale and heights depending if they were making sculptures for land, sea or air
While students worked in teams, they had opportunity to individually and independently create parts of the sculptures

12. What didn’t work and why?:

Ripping duct tape was a skill that some students did not master. Dollar store duct tape does not have the adhesive qualities of hardware store duct tape.

Penguin with moving head

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

We wanted students to use the Engineering Design Process (Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve), along with following the constraints and criteria for the project.  Students were assessed for their ability to work within their groups.

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

Students and teachers in Kindergarten-3rd grade were given a “tour” of the mobile-scape. Other students, teachers, and visitors were able to see the sculptures for two weeks when it was set up in the hall.    

Students and their mobile-scape exhibition in the hall

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

Social engagement primarily occurred through the process of the project including the making of the work and the situation of the classroom itself. Students learned through exploring materials and making plans together. The social energy and enthusiasm of the classroom was visible in the final product/ sculptures. 

This team is designing a space sculpture

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

The three second grade classes were interested in seeing what the other classes were doing in relation to their theme. They all used the same materials but did so many different things with them. We were able to talk about interpreting and critique–in 2nd grade terms, of course–so they were able to enjoy and comment on others’ work without feeling like they had to compare it to their own work.

 Learning how to collaborate doesn’t come easy when each student on a team has   a different idea. Here Patty helps students negotiate and combine their ideas. 

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

Actually, sharing this project did a couple of things. The three second grade classes were interested in seeing what the other classes were doing in relation to their theme. They all used the same materials but did so many different things with them. We were able to talk about interpreting and critique–in 2nd grade terms, of course–so they were able to enjoy and comment on others’ work without feeling like they had to compare it to their own.

 It encouraged four other teachers to want to participate in CAPE.  It’s possible we may submit a proposal where we all work together on a project.

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

Science and Engineering:

2-PS1-2 Matter and Its Interactions

Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.*

ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

A situation that people want to change or create can be approached as a problem to be solved through engineering. (K-2-ETS1-1)

Asking questions, making observations, and gathering information are helpful in thinking about problems. (K-2-ETS1-1)

Before beginning to design a solution, it is important to clearly understand the problem. (K-2-ETS1-1)

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

Designs can be conveyed through sketches, drawings, or physical models. These representations are useful in communicating ideas for a problem’s solutions to other people. (K-2-ETS1-2)

ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

Because there is always more than one possible solution to a problem, it is useful to compare and test designs. (K-2-ETS1-3)

1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

2. Using knowledge of structures and functions

3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas (students understand how their formal choices are connected to their concept and that their art represents bigger ideas)

5. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

6. Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines