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 were inspired by aspects of a similar project we did last year, but wanted to see if we could focus on the idea of change and personal obstacles as well.
2. Big Idea: How do we adapt to the space around us?
3. Inquiry: Can exploring ways that animals do or could adapt to man-made obstacles in the natural environment help students identify ways they navigate obstacles in their environment?
4. Grade Level: 11
5. Academic Subject(s): Environmental Science
6. Artistic Discipline(s): site-specific sculpture/installation, found materials, painting, assemblage, photography, simple print-making
7. How many years have you worked together as partners?: 2
8. Please describe what you did and what you made for this project: Students conducted experiments to study change to organic and inorganic materials outside over time. They documented through observation and photographs that organic materials decomposed and inorganic materials remained almost unchanged. While the experiment was outside, the students painted multiple cylinders in various patterns. When these were completed, the students took turns arranging them in various places in the school. We documented these temporary installations and talked about the choices the students made. We explored adaptation formally through these temporary installations. They further explored pattern visually through a ghost-printing technique. The students learned about Daniel Kish and echolocation and the patterns of sound waves. They conducted their own sound wave experiment in which they explored changes in sound wave patterns.
Students studied animal adaptation, patterns, habitat and human impact on natural environments. The final adaptation is the resulting installation in this exhibition space that reflects both intentional and unintentional manipulations of materials.
9. What were you hoping the students would learn during this project?: The questions surrounding adaptation are particularly cogent in a school that serves students with intellectual disabilities, since some human environments are not always accommodating for all abilities. We wanted the students to learn the differences between man-made and natural waste materials, how they change over time, and how animals adapt to them. We wanted them to gain an understanding of how all of these things are connected to their daily lives. The idea of adaptation was also explored formally through the creation of multiple objects which were used in various ways and documented. We were also hoping that they might approach the subject in a more personal way, discussing obstacles in their own lives but that was not as successful with this particular group.
10. What surprised you during this project?: While they were reluctant to open up about their own obstacles, they seemed fascinated with the story of Daniel Tish (a man with no eyes), and how he employed echolocation and developed his own system of navigating the world, becoming extremely independent.
11. What worked in this project and why? What didn’t work and why?:
As mentioned above, the attempt to get more personal in talking about individual obstacles was not as successful, but we were able to work around it.
The diversity of art-making activities was successful: students who didn’t respond as well to one thing, could find a greater agency with another. For example, a couple of the students who were previously more reluctant in one type of expression really got involved in photographing the temporary installations. Some were really into the hands-on making (painting, constructing forms…) while others became really engaged in conversation about some of the presentations (Daniel Tish, echolocation).
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.) Combination of formative and summative assessments were used.
Student learning was assessed in conversations about their work, both in their aesthetic choices and how they hypothesized the adaptations that animals would acquire in order to deal with pollution in their habitat. Science content was assessed through teacher made quizzes.
13. How did you share your student’s learning process with others? Who did you share it with?:
We made copies of the documentation/posters for the school to display. The posters were displayed with the written description of the project at school events including partent conferences. Also, the outdoor garden piece for up for several months for the entire school to observe. We also exhibited at CONVERGENCE to a wider audience. The students also had a field trip where they were able to see their work in context as well as explore other CAPE exhibits.
14. Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, National Core Arts):
National Core Art Standards:
VA:Cr1.1.2a – Brainstorm collaboratively multiple approaches to an art or design problem.
VA:Cr1.2.3a – Apply knowledge of available resources, tools, and technologies to investigate personal ideas through the art-making process.
SL.11-12.1 – Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
RST.9-10.3. Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
HS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.