mirrors presentations, day 1

Exposition is upon us! Yesterday, the Hummingbirds, Hawks, and Elephants gave beautiful presentations about their project work during the Mirrors arc.

Shawna told the story of the Hummingbirds’ arc, starting with a viewing of their choreographed dance routine based on their own version of the Snow White story. The different acts portrayed the Queen plotting against Snow White, the Queen giving poison to Snow White, the coffin with a deceased Snow White inside, and the celebration/fight scene that comes at the end. The dance was done at ODC Dance Studios nearby where the kids choreographed and practiced with the help of expert Hillary. Shawna explained their study of the Snow White story as an exploration of beauty, family structures, jealousy, and problem solving, and the steps they took to creating their own story.


At the end of the presentation, each Hummingbird was asked, “Which is more powerful: the mirror or the kiss?” Ramses was sure that it was the mirror, because whatever the mirror said, people followed. Tesla said it was the kiss, because it was all about love and the mirror is only about meanness. Sadie said it was the mirror because the mirror represents the truth.

The Hawks were up next and described the work they did on their solar concentrators.

Bruno talked about how a parabola works: the angle of reflection and the angle of incidence are equal, making a shape like a triangle, and the light condenses into a focal point. His design was inspired by a disco ball and made his reflector an inside out disco ball. It’s easily adjustable to meet the sun’s rays. He also talked about trying to attach a motor to rotate his marshmallow for an even roast, but it’s manual for now.




Quinn also used a parabolic mirror made from a satellite dish covered in mirror tiles. He talked about design challenges in finding a way to hold the marshmallow in the focal point. First he used his fingers, but burned them. He tried barbeque tongs, but couldn’t hold them still enough to heat up his marshmallow. Finally he decided to use wire, which was doubly good because wire is heat conductive. He also made an adjustable stand to hold up his mirror.



Lola and Lucy had wanted to bake a pie for their project, but realized they had to heat the oven up to 350 degrees, so ended up building a solar oven. They used the greenhouse effect, which they explained is a way to trap infrared light from the sun and create heat. They painted their oven black to have more effective absorption, and created mirror flaps to direct more heat into the oven, since they discovered that more mirrors means more heat. Ultimately they baked crispy tarts at 300 degrees.





Ben was inspired by parabolic intuition strain on Khan Academy on his solar cooker. His cooker was a large frame draped with mylar, which proved to be a challenge because of the wind, so he used plexiglass and dowels to keep it steady and taut. He described drawing a two-inch grid along the outside of the cooker to make his focal point more accurate, and made a stand to help him angle the cooker toward the sun.




Clementine, Natasha, and Aurora talked about the three different iterations they created in testing their solar cooker ideas. They wanted to bake a cookie in their oven and worked off of the ideas of the cooker that Clementine made in Joshua Tree. They used black cardboard as insulation and a mirror to direct the light, and ended up using a parabolic mirror just outside the oven to direct even more light into the oven. It got up to 150 degrees and took an hour to bake their cookies.





Lili introduced each Elephant and talked about the ways they grew during this arc.

Frances talked about her study of Eritrean braiding practices and explained some of the research she did, the experts she visited, and her scientific experiments about muscle memory. She visited Ginger Rubio salon and an Eritrean woman named Yodit to learn more about braiding. Her scientific experiment predicted that it would take less time to braid one’s own hair without a mirror than with one, and after collecting data from some Brightworks community members, this was proven correct. Her conclusion is that muscle memory helps more than visuals.



Oscar, Lukas, and Rhone described their process in building a telescope. They were inspired by a Youtube video as well as a visit to the Chabot Space Center. They researched Galileo’s work in studying the universe and tried to make a telescope similar to the one he used with mirrors. They described the way a mirror telescope working: the light of the object you’re looking at hits the concave mirror and bounces off the flat mirror to create an image in your eye. They talked about challenges and setbacks, and the lessons they learned through the process.




Jacob hit a few major setbacks in his project, but gave an excellent presentation that described his journey. Initially, he wanted to make a game in RPG player, then tried to do it in Minecraft, but found it didn’t work without a piece of software he wasn’t able to get his hands on. However, he did work on a wood prototype of the mirror maze that he wanted to replicate on the computer.



Norabelle presented the bust she made of herself and talked about the process of making this sculpture. She studied Dali and the reason people make busts – to make a permanent memorial of an important person. She talked about the challenges of her first bust, made of clay, and the more advanced and life-sized second bust, made of many materials including PVC pipe, tape, foil, glue, wood, fabric, plaster strips, paint and yarn.




Audrey’s project was inspired by the idea of photographic memory – which, she informed us, actually doesn’t exist. What takes its place is something called a memory mansion, where people use images they know well to associate with things in their long-term memory. She talked about how memory works and told us that improving memory isn’t as hard as it seems. She showed us a card trick to prove her memory improvement.