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.):
Deborah and I wanted to continue our investigation of forms and types of energy and using art to visualize the abstract. Energy is a concept that runs through many areas of science but because it is abstract it’s sometimes difficult for students to grasp. We wanted to use copper tape to explore electronic circuits with this 4th grader group because we felt the materials would lend themselves to more exploration. In the past we used conductive thread to create electronic circuits, which is a little more expensive than copper tape and difficult for some younger students to work with.
2. Big Idea:
Invisible Energy and Soft Circuits
How can you use line, shape, color and scientific research to imagine what different forms of energy look like? How can using ordinary and easily accessible materials to create electronic circuits help students to understand the concept of energy?
4. Grade Level:
5. Academic Subject(s):
Science & Technology
6. Artistic Discipline(s):
Visual art and design
7. How many years have you worked together as partners?:
4th year working together
8. Please describe what you did and what you made for this project:
Students researched and wrote stories about forms of energy and embedded their electronic circuits into their storybooks. Students combined their research from their science unit, with language arts and their exploration of electronic circuitry.
The project started with students working at various stations that allowed them to explore a different aspect of energy (from sound to emotional energy) either through attempting to visualize the abstract through color, line and shape, or attempting to create a circuit that lights up one or several LEDs.
It was very important to us that the students take an active learning approach with the materials. We provided initial prompts but then allowed for students to make discoveries (and mistakes) for themselves. Familiar materials such as brightly colored markers, colorful paper was placed alongside more unfamiliar materials such as copper tape, LEDs, coin cell battery, alligator clips and battery holder. The familiar materials provided at entry point for many of the students while giving them confidence to explore the new materials.
Students also created a larger interactive circuit work which was specifically designed for the Convergence exhibition, so that the viewer has the opportunity to take part in the process of this project.
9. What were you hoping the students would learn during this project?:
As I mentioned earlier, we wanted to continue to work on the Energy unit because it’s a concept that runs through so many topics in science but because it’s abstract it’s sometimes hard for students to grasp. We wanted students to think about What is energy? Forms and types of energy and transfer/conversion of energy. We wanted our integration to allow the students to visualize the energy around them and understand it’s impact on their lives.
The copper tape allowed the students to learn about energy from a different perspective, creating simple or parallel circuits, to learn about current flow, polarity and connections. While designing the curriculum we looked at the research done by a Professor at Indiana University called Kylie Peppler. She has done extensive research about the benefits of using electronic textiles and soft circuits v. the traditional materials (bulb, insulated wires and battery pack) used in a classroom to learn about electronic circuits. She argues that there are limitations with using these traditional materials and believes that using soft circuitry/e-textiles makes the learning more visible to the students.
10. What surprised you during this project?:
What surprised me most was how the students took ownership of their learning when working at different stations and how they used different strategies to overcome challenges. Students who were usually reserved or reluctant to share with classmates emerged as project leaders assisting peers with investigation trial and errors. This project improved one student’s anger management by redirecting his energy in a positive manner. The decrease in anger and the increase in positive behavior earned the student the opportunity to participate in the school’s robotic program. This project produced new leaders who boldly accepted the opportunity to assist and share their knowledge with classmates, parents, and community. Students working as problem solvers and thinking outside of the box – not looking to teacher or artist for a right or wrong answer was great. Students were comfortable exploring their ideas and carrying their ideas further.
11. What worked in this project and why? What didn’t work and why?
Based on students’ responses in their journals and through group discussions we think the active learning approach was very effective. The materials we used (copper tape and micro-electronics) engaged the students and allowed them to learn and explore at their own pace and develop their individual interests.
Some of the assignments we gave the students (such as researching different forms of energy) were very difficult for some students to succeed individually. Next year students should be encouraged to research in groups to make the task less overwhelming.
12. How did you assess student learning?: (ex. Was it formative or summative? Was it a written, verbal or performative based assessment? Were students provided with teacher or peer feedback? Did you use a rubric or portfolio system? Etc.)
We used different forms of formative assessment such as individual and group journals which Deborah and I periodically read in order to gain to monitor and manage student learning. Students worked with peers to gain feedback and also used a rubric to assess their own work.
13. How did you share your student’s learning process with others? Who did you share it with?:
Students celebrated the completion of the project by inviting family, friends and community members to a culminating event. Students presented to the group and then invited the guests to interact with their artwork so that they could also learn about the energy, circuitry and the arts integration process.
14. Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, National Core Arts):
4-PS3-4. Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
VA:Cr2.1.4 – Explore and invent art-making techniques and approaches
3-5-ETS1-1.Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
3-5-ETS1-2.Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem
SEL 2B.2b – Demonstrate how to work effectively with those who are different from oneself.
SEL.1C.4a – Identify strategies to make use of resources and overcome obstacles to achieve goals.