Bulb Archived: Pirie 2018-2019 : Jones and Tritschler (2018-2019 A/R Partners)


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.):

When we met over the summer to write our proposal, we discussed doing another STEAM project because our math/art unit from last year, Fractions: There is Fine Line Between Numerator and Denominator, had been very successful. Within this unit, we had students collaborate in small groups to create variations of  fractional hopscotch in the science lab. We saw the potential to have students work together again to create an art work based in science and art.

As we looked over the science standards, we found that kinetic energy would be an area of focus along with engineering. Our idea was to have students create kinetic art works/sculptures that would use properties of balance and equilibrium to create free-moving artworks.

A student’s kinetic stabile sculpture.

2. Big Idea: Movement

3. Inquiry: How can using a combination of visual art and engineering practices to build kinetic art works help students become more fluent in their understanding of the concepts of both physical science and measurement?

4. Grade Level: 6th

5. Academic Subjects: NGSS Science and Common Core Math

6. Artistic Discipline: visual art

7. How many years have you worked together as partners? We have worked together for a total of 7 years between two of CAPE’s programs.

8. Please describe what you did and what you made for this project:

Our unit, which is titled “Kinetic Sculptures: We Like to Move It, Move It,” is based in STEAM. We had the students create three pieces of kinetic art with the purpose being that each work would inform the next work.


Cover of a student’s sketchbook

The first session included introductions and creating handmade sketchbooks. After Ellen demonstrated how to create an 8-page sketchbook by folding one large sheet of paper, the students created their own and then continued to decorate the cover with the title of our unit and how they envisioned kinetic art.

Students used the sketchbooks for several different purposes. They would sketch ideas for their sculptures, they wrote notes and reflections and they pasted images within the pages as references.

After we shared our inquiry question with the students, we asked them to write their own questions as well.

Student Inquiry

Kinetic Stabiles

Ellen showed the students the kinetic sculptures of American artist, John T. Scott and they watched a very short video of him speaking about his work and his philosophy. The students created small kinetic stabile sculptures as a way to begin to experiment with motion. Using Twisteez wire as the main structural material and Model Magic as the anchor material, students created their own small scale kinetic stabiles. They had to have the structure anchored and they had to have one part of the sculpture that would move with the natural force of wind.  After creating the works, we gave the students a small photo of the work to paste in their sketchbook and beside the photo we asked them to write a reflection on their process.

Student creating a kinetic stabile.
Student’s kinetic stabile made from Twisteez wire and anchored in Model Magic.
 Student’s written reflection about her stabile
Student’s written reflection on her stabile



Before beginning the work on the second sculpture, Ellen introduced the class to the works of Alexander Calder. Students watched a video Calder made of his piece titled Cirque Calder which has moving parts. She also showed them many images of his famous mobiles. The concept of the mobile was the crux of the second sculpture.

Students began the project by writing a list of possible materials and drafting a design.


Collaborative Kinetic Sculpture

Students worked in small groups to create the final sculpture which had to have a kinetic component. In each group, students needed to plan their ideas through multiple conversations and drawings in their sketchbooks. Once they agreed on a design, they built and tested the kinetic aspect of their work. Finally, students presented their sculptures to the entire class and explained what type of kinetic energy was important to make their sculpture move. (The details of each group’s work are listed in the Teacher’s Assessment portion below.)

Kira helping the students.

9. How did you share your student’s learning process with your school faculty or community?

Teaching Artist Assessment:

How did you assess student arts 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.)

The students arts learning was assessed at the end of the project (summative). It was written more as a reflection and recall of their process.

What were the results of the assessment? What did students learn in your class/project?

I found that the students learned

What did you learn from analyzing the student assessments that informs your Arts teaching practice?

I found that the students did very well at recalling their process of collaboration with their fellow artists. Below is a photo of one of the assessments which details the steps that her group took in creating their kinetic sculptures. Even though I only assessed the final sculpture that was done collaboratively, I think in the future if I were to do a project again that is based in scaffolding, that I will assess each one as a part of a larger whole.


Illinois Arts Learning Standards Addressed:

VA:Cr1.1.6 a. Combine concepts collaboratively to generate innovative ideas for creating art.

VA:Cr1.2.5a Identify and demonstrate diverse methods of artistic investigation to choose an approach for beginning a work of art.

VA:Pr4.1.6 a. Individually or collaboratively, develop a visual plan for displaying works of art, analyzing exhibit space, the needs of the viewer, and the layout of the exhibit.

Teacher Assessment: Kira

How did you assess student academic content 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.)

What were the results of the assessment?

Students successfully completed their stem projects and earnd grades of B or higher, students were assessed on science knowledge on Kinetic Energy, the material utilized to build their projects and the oral presentation. The students were divided into groups and each group named their STEM Project:

  1. Kinetic Swing – Mariah Taylor, Kamiah Robinson, Jalyn Pressley, and Simahj Jones, materais used, cardboard box, rulers, string, glue, construction paper, foil and glue. This group utilized kinetic energy in the form of (force) to move the swing. They designed three swings and affixed cardboard and string to design string. They constructed rulers to hod the swing, Students made a fan to help move swings. This group indicated that they learned that Kinetic energy is that objects generate energy due to its pressure and motion

Thjs group Earned a group project grade of 85%, B.

  1. 2. Project Minivan – Jayla Green, Jahmeelah Howard, Alvin Wright, Jalen Davis, materials utilized for this project included cardboard box, magnets, bottle tops, skewers, paint, and wooden sticks. These students utilized kinetic energy in the form of (motion) the wheels were used to move minivan. The students designed the minivan by creating a base, placed the wooden stick to support base, next they utilized the cardboard box to form the body of the minivan. Then students used skewers to support the bottle tops which supports the wheels. Finally they glued the magnets on the back of the minivan in the same directions which will make create force which propels the minivan and allow it to move.

This group indicated that they learned that kinetic energy is movement made by forces with the use of magnets and wheels.

This group earned a group grade of 95%, A.

3. Light Movement – Laniya Bradley, Aniiyah Long, Gedeon Mawutodzi, and Jeremy

Roland, material used for there projects, include card board box, water bottles, candles, string, construction paper, glue and sticks. This group utilized kinetic energy in the form of air to move the swings. They designed a structure with four swings and affixed lighted candles to each swing. Then with a piece of cardboard, a human will need to fan the air to create movement of all four swings. The students learned that when an object moves it performs kinetic energy.

This group earned a grade of 80%, B.

4. Kinetic Miniature Swing – Faith Bertha, Keyon Thomas, Kichonna Bell, materials used for this group, include, cardboard box, magnets, wooden sticks, straws, string, wallpaper, tape, paint, glu and skewers. This group utilized kinetic energy in the form of (force), they used a magnet to move the swing. They designed one swing, and affixe magnet on top. Then with a hot glue they glued the magnet to a wooden stick. Then they turned the wooden stick opposite of the swing and it created kinetic energy in the form of magnetic force. This group learned that kinetic energy is movement made by natural forces. This group earned a grade of 100% A.

5. Thunder Storm – Lam Manning, Juanita Jones, Latrez O’Neil, materials this group used include water bottles, cardboard box,string, pencils, construction paper, skewers, glue, scissors, paint, and tape. This group used kinetic energy in the form of gravity. The way in which they used gravity was when you lifting up bottle, there will be raindrops falling down. They learned that kinetic energy for movement made by natural forces. This group earned a grade of 100%,

What did students learn in your class/project?

My students learned about kinetic energy by reading an article, conducting a project and learning about the different forms of kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is simply the energy that an object has because it is moving . Then students were introduced to the different types of kinetic energy, motion, force, air, and speed. Students conducted a project during science on molecules of water in a tea cup, and students had to determine what had the greater average of kinetic energy?

I utilized both formative and summative assessments. As a Science Teacher, I had to assess weekly on science vocabulary, homework, classwork , labs, which reinforces the science content on the unit of kinetic energy. Then we had a unit exam, on kinetic energy. It was important for students to have a clear understanding of kinetic energy and its various forms. I also incorporated our CAPE project and Stem project as part of the summative assessment.

Were Teacher students provided with teacher or peer feedback?

I provided opportunities for both teacher and peer feedback. I met with every group and I also allowed students to share with each what they were working on and some students were able to help their peers with their thinking as we continue to work on our stem projects.

Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, SEL, Etc.): 

ESS2-B Energy

MS-PS2 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-PS4, Energy