inspired by exploration

What an incredible mix of map projects these kids have come up with! They have really taken great leaps and bounds in allowing themselves to be inspired by a topic during this arc, which is wonderful considering that many of them were discouraged and uninterested in the arc topic when it was introduced to them several weeks ago. Also lovely to see is a new trust in the learning aspects of the Exploration phase. In arcs before this one, the kids would hear the arc topic and immediately decide what kind of project they wanted to work on, without first embarking with their collaborators into Exploration to learn new things and be exposed to many ideas. However, with these Maps Expression projects, I see the kids’ declarations that describe projects based on ideas they allowed themselves to be curious about during Exploration. Their project ideas now very clearly stem from topics that they discovered, not that they brought with them. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they didn’t know much about Maps before this arc (other than they’re the squiggly lines that tell you where you are) or were limited by their understanding of what maps can show you, or maybe – just maybe – we’re getting better at following a path through a landscape of Exploration topics and seeing more clearly just what ideas most inspire curiosity in these kids.

Nicky and Mason, inspired by the immigration stories and adventures they learned about during Exploration, have chosen a project based on gathering firsthand stories of immigrants and mapping out origins and journeys. They are particularly interested in issues dealing with the Mexican-American border. Yesterday, they saw the tail-end of a naturalization ceremony and they are excited to return for the next one to interview some of the participants and see the whole event.

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Natasha is hitting the streets to collect data – the streets in front of La Boulange bakeries, that is, to collect data about the number of pigeons that crowd around to eat crumbs. She was inspired by Stamen’s presentations of data in beautiful, aesthetic ways, and will be working with them and our artist-in-residence Jacqueline to create a map representation of the data she collects over the next few weeks about pigeon habits.

Maps Expression

She’s not the only one who was inspired by Stamen maps – the mouse house group of Lucy, Clementine, and Noah are learning about mouse habits, creating a mouse house based on what they find out and an architect’s expertise, and tracking live mice through their creation to draw a map that explains what mice like. Isaac is also collecting various pieces of data from neighborhoods in the city and will be mapping Stamen-like representations of correlations between computer stores and hot dog stands (for example).

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Zada and Madison are creating their own civilizations that exist in an almost-fantasy world – still based partly in reality – and will be doing readings and research to better inform what kind of society they are creating to make it better and more ideal for their citizens. Max is writing a novella exploring the idea that a map can silently destroy a life by putting someone in the wrong place at the wrong time. Henry is creating a map that the kids can climb – on a climbing wall inside the school that he is raising funds for.

Norabelle and Bruno were inspired by mazes and labyrinths during the arc and will be researching the design elements in making these map puzzles. They’re excited to visit Grace Cathedral’s labyrinth, the maze at Land’s End, and Veriditas in Petaluma, a nonprofit that focuses on learning more about labyrinths and the role they play in spirituality and mythology. Their project is mathy too! They’ll be measuring the time it takes to walk a labyrinth, and then measuring that time in terms of length, and the mathematics involved in maze design.

Maps Expression

Ben and Lola are working together to explore the tectonic plates and continential on the surface of the earth and create a clay animation video about how Pangea became the seven continents. Their video will be set to a song they write based on Gotye’s break-up song “Somebody That I Used to Know”.

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More and more details on more projects, particularly those that the Sand Leopards are taking on, are forthcoming as these projects develop!