Making Kite Connections

Last week began with some kite reflection.


Writing out our kite reflections in our visual journal.

It was awesome to see how many opportunities for iteration everyone had leading up to our big test flight on Bernal Hill.


Felix was determined to make a rounded box kite. His first kite iteration was made out of whole bamboo poles that made the kite too heavy to fly.


Felix’s second kite iteration made for a better bucket than a kite, and so he turned it into a pulley system for our upstairs Band space.


Felix’s third and final iteration for the kite was made out of split bamboo and a nylon material. This combination made the kite much lighter, and it was easily picked up by the wind on Bernal Hill during our test flight.

We decided to build on our kite math to create two dueling dragon kites—one fire dragon for Amber Band and a water dragon for Indigo Band! We talked about the importance of having a failure positive attitude to help us iterate on our designs, while also being conservative with our materials so we didn’t produce too much waste. Understanding how to calculate surface area really helped us cut down on the amount of waste we produced in building our kite.


Norabelle’s plans for cutting out a 12″ ring.


Elijah, Ella, and Norabelle working hard to make the most with the least for cutting out their dragon kite panels.


Everyone in Ambigo designed a panel on our dragon kite using symbols to tell their personal story.


Rhone’s sketch using geometric patterns and personal symbols to tell the story of his past, present, and future on his panel for the dragon kite.

Last week we also started reading Laurence Yep’s historical novel Dragonwings. The book is inspired by the stories of a Chinese immigrant who made a flying machine in 1909, and portrays the rich traditions of the San Francisco Chinatown community that formed during this difficult time. As we read the book we’re practicing how to record important details, analyze the big idea of each chapter, and highlighting any new words. Students recreated tableaus from each chapter on Friday to act out important scenes from each chapter so far.


Declan plays the role of Moon Shadow traveling by boat to the Land of Golden Mountain in chapter one.


Moon Shadow, as played by Norabelle, receiving the knife from Black Dog in chapter two.


Felix plays the part of Windrider telling the story of how he got his name in chapter three.

Next week we’ll continue to build on our math skills by working with geometric solids. Will we design air-chairs for our upstairs band space? Will we make a hot air balloon to transport precious cargo? Will we build an air-supported geodesic dome? Anything is possible!

We’ll also continue to read Dragonwings, and to help learn more about Chinese culture while we do, we’ll get the chance to interview students in Hong Kong. Because of the 15 hour time difference, we’ll be doing our interview through a few back and forth video messages for now. We’ve also talked about possibly having a late-night Skype session at Brightworks to be able to talk to the students in Hong Kong when it’s daytime for them.

I’m looking forward to seeing all the ways we continue to explore the movement of things by air in these last few weeks of the first Arc!

Amber Band takes flight!

Last week was our first week as the Amber Band, and so we took time to get to know one another a bit better. We wrote our group agreement, completed design challenges, and played TASK. Each of us set personal, academic, and social goals for the year.


Playing TASK! Rhone was tasked with turning our chairs into a train.


Amber Band + Indigo Band had a great conversation on some group goals and agreements for the year.


We made mini zines about our goals for the year.

We’ll be working with Indigo Band for the first Arc to help us build a bigger community. Phillip and I want to make sure the kids get a chance to build friendships outside of their band, while still making sure that kids get solid community building time within their smaller bands as well. Ambigo, as our Amber and Indigo combo is commonly referred to, have been working through creative constraints in various teams while learning the importance of communication and collaboration. Kids worked in pairs to create a parachute in the wind tunnel that Gever built. Then they worked in triads to tinker with cardboard sculptures.


Tinkering with cardboard and working on some building skills.


Prototyping parachutes for the wind tunnel.



Tinkering with cardboard!

This week it’s all about kites! Kite Week will be an opportunity for a majority of the bands at BWX to explore the movement of kites by air. We’ll be learning about the history of kites, geometry of kites, making kites from scratch, reading Dragonwings together, going to SFMOMA to learn about how the Jet and Space Age affected art and culture, visiting a kite store in Chinatown, and flying kites together as a school on Bernal Hill. So much to do this week, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the wind takes us!


Amber Band setting personal, academic, and social goals for the year.



First Amber Band outing of the year! We visited a coffee shop to make close observations of how people work in the space to get inspiration for our band space. Looking forward to many more adventures this year!