Murhpy Elementary: Sarah Ramirez & Gwyneth Zeleny Anderson


How can we make art to see waves, and learn the different kinds of waves that we interact with?

– Murphy Elementary, Teacher Sarah Ramirez and Teaching Artist Gwyneth Zeleny Anderson

Animation by Murphy Elementary Teaching Artist Gwyneth Zeleny Anderson

Waves, invisible phenomena, instruments filmed in a way that allow certain waves to appear in different materials, how elephants communicate and listen through waves caused by their feet. Representations of measurable invisible phenomena like sounds and pollution, as well as representations of smells and emotions.

Once quarantine began, we focused on creating sound maps, using Gwyneth’s video for the CAPE after-school program as a guide.


We spent one day creating waves, using lengths of cord stretched across the room, as well as saucers of water with eye-droppers. Students drew and took notes in their journals, then used post-it note pads to show their observations of making waves with ropes, slinkies, and water.

What new questions or new ideas did the sound maps spark for you? + What is silence? Does it have a sound?
Students’ responses included:

It made me wonder what else there is, what other sounds there are.

No one really pays attention – like when taking a walk. The sound maps made me pay attention to the sounds.

People don’t pay attention to a lot of sounds, because they are paying attention to unnecessary sounds. They don’t know what it is, they’re trying to figure out what it is.

Why is it sometimes hard for people to not notice certain sounds?

Sometimes people pay attention to phones and not the road. It can be dangerous to not pay attention.

We were blown away by how students connected the paying attention involved with listening inside their homes with the paying attention required for safety and engaging in the outside world. They also independently brought up the observation that lots of people do not pay attention to many of the sounds around us. We are interested in how inquiry allows students to give voice to observations that they wouldn’t otherwise make, and how inquiry engages their concern and awareness of society at large, through initially engaging in a very solitary activity.