I will be working with a fifth grade class on balance. During this course, I have found that there are several skills/approaches which were seen in the class examples, such as the Amusement Park for the Birds, that will be helpful for my design project on balance. Some of the skills included are observation, discovery, working in groups, diagramming, and documenting the process/reviewing the students work.
I have been researching on what architects or artists use balance in their work and how I can incorporate their ideas into my lesson. Andy Goldsworthy has done numerous projects where he balances rocks or other materials into a pile. This is seen clearly in his stone egg art piece.
In this piece of work, Andy has to carefully stack the rocks so they are equally balanced on each side of the circular form. In the video of him stacking the rocks, he faces issues with the pile being unbalanced (where one rock may have been too heavy when placed on one side of the circular form) and the form falls to the earth into an unordered pile of rocks. I felt that this might be a good video clip to share with the class to see how balance plays a role in his art pieces.
All include the need for balance or unbalance to function.
I thought that an obstacle course or rube goldberg type of project might be possible to make with the students. They could be divided into groups and form their own system of balance. However, due to time constraints, this project would have been too complex to finish in just three days.
During our conversations in class, the idea of making a mobile came up. This type of project would be very helpful for the students to design their own mobile, understand how to balance the mobile, and learn to add or subtract weight. The students would combine their individual mobiles together to create one large class mobile. It helps the students to work together as well as individually.
An artist that has worked thoroughly with mobiles is Alexander Calder.
Calder has become known for his mobiles and stables. By using an artist to present to the class and show his work, it will be helpful in explaining exactly what we will try to accomplish in the class, and give the students some inspiration for their own designs.
I have been in contact with the teacher I am working with, Deb, and she feels this type of project will work well in the fifth grade class. The project will encompass numerous types of intelligences including logical/mathematical intelligence, linguistic intelligence, and interpersonal/intrapersonal intelligence. The design process for the mobile will engage the students left and right brain; the students must understand the parts of the project and think logically about the design (left brain), while the project should also help the students understand the mobile as a whole (right brain) when they complete it.
Some skills that will be implemented are: basic/scientific/technological literacies, cultural literacy/global awareness, curiosity/creativity/risk-taking, and teaming/collaboration. Some habits of mind that I may be dealing with throughout the project are: listening to others, thinking flexibly, thinking about our thinking, questioning and posing problems, applying past knowledge to new situations, creating, imagining, and innovating, and thinking interdependently.
Some questions that I have for Deb include: Will the students be working on their mobliles while I am absent? What materials/resources are available? How much do the students already understand about balance?