Lake View High School: Melissa Zagorski & Michael Lopez, Grades 9-12

Can you keep your life in balance?

What can investigating balance through various materials reveal about ourselves?

Words by Lake View High School Teacher, Melissa Zagorski, and Teaching Artist, Michael Lopez .

We started with videos and examples of kinetic art and mobiles to give the students a sense of the project we would be developing. Next, we used exercises that asked students to compile and order important things in their lives, interests, people, and aspirations. This was followed by basic exercises focused on the given materials that would then be used as a format to assign images and words that related to their lists. We hoped that balance, the material, the lists, and references all served to fold in the inquiry question into the process of making the final product we envisioned.

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Equilibrium, torque, center of gravity, force, center of balance, weight, + mass

By researching rotational mechanics from a physics perspective concepts like equilibrium, torque, center of gravity, force, center of balance, weight, and mass were applied to the materials used to construct mobiles. These practical and scientific concerns were used to support more emotional and personal expression displayed on their creations. Kinetic art and mobiles in modern and contemporary art were shared to inspire and influence the students’ projects. 

Students made lists of content and sketches of possible mobile designs. While seeing each other’s work, each student was influenced by their classmates’ design process which allowed them to evolve a unique expression that incorporated the previous research.

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Students realized that presentation is more difficult than they imagined. With this specific project, things like balance were vital to having the mobiles appear as they wished. Additionally seeing fellow students work allowed them to see possibilities that might not have been imaginable previously.