Taking on a Second Iteration, Mathing it Up, Persuading Others, and the Bridge

After the success of the first iteration of their tetrahedral kite, the Teal Band decided to move forward with a second iteration. On Monday, they reflected on their experiences making and flying the kite and the construction of the kite itself. After brainstorming successes and challenges, they came up with a number of next steps to improve on the kite’s design and construction.

Teal Band reflected on the first iteration of their tetrahedral kite in preparation for their second iteration.

Teal Band reflected on the first iteration of their tetrahedral kite in preparation for their second iteration.

Exploring a new way to construct the tetrahedrons with stronger vertex corners by eliminating the string all together.

Exploring a new way to construct the tetrahedrons with stronger vertex corners by eliminating the string all together.

While reading Math Curse by Jon Sciezska the previous week, we stumbled upon a math problem we wanted to solve: How much would it cost to measure the length of the Mississippi River in M&Ms? They had already found that it would take 400 million M&Ms to measure, but how much do 400 million M&Ms cost. They were pretty certain that not all bags of M&Ms contained the same number, so they settled on counting 6 bags and taking an average. After work around averages, some major long division, and multiplication, they figured out that it would cost $9,381,817.83 to buy enough M&Ms at regular price or $3,636,363,50 at the sale price we bought them at. We decided against actually measuring it and saving those millions for a new building for Brightworks.

After reading Math Curse last week, the Teal Band wanted to figure out how much it would cost to measure the length of the Mississippi River in M&Ms.

After reading Math Curse last week, the Teal Band wanted to figure out how much it would cost to measure the length of the Mississippi River in M&Ms.

We also took a look at the surface area of the triangles that make up the kite’s tetrahedrons. After exploring the triangles for a bit, they discovered that they could turn the triangle into a rectangle by cutting it in half and putting the two halves back together in another configuration to recreate the whole. Knowing that the area of a rectangle can be found by multiplying the width by the height, the Teal Band also worked to find the hypotenuse of the right triangles they had created when they cut the equilateral triangle in half, as that had become the height of their rectangle.

The Teal Band explored ways to find the surface area of the triangles that make up their kite's tetrahedrons.

The Teal Band explored ways to find the surface area of the triangles that make up their kite’s tetrahedrons.

With our Mendocino trip only weeks away, a few students are already making requests for cabin mates, cabin leaders, trail groups and more. These requests provided the perfect opportunity for the Teal Band to work on their persuasive writing skills. This coming week, they will work to help peer edit one another’s work.

Everyone in the Teal Band is working on a persuasive letter to someone else in the Brightworks community.

Everyone in the Teal Band is working on a persuasive letter to someone else in the Brightworks community.

The “bridge” between the Teal band space and the library is in need of a major facelift and the Teal Band has been tasked with taking that on. On Wednesday, we met with Amanda Simons to brainstorm. They listed how it is currently used, how they want to use it, and what they want to change. Everyone wanted to jump straight to their design ideas, but we are taking our time and doing this right. It’s hard to create a true design if you don’t have the measurements and a drawing of the space as is. This coming week, we will move onto the physical design. They cannot wait.

The first steps to updating the bridge between the band space and the library with Amanda.

The first steps to updating the bridge between the band space and the library with Amanda.

We wrapped up the week with a conversation around flying vs. gliding vs. floating. They worked together to define each of the three. It was not an easy task, but one that we had been touching on daily since day one. To expand on their thoughts around these concepts, each Teal bander wrote a blog post stemming from this discussion.

Sharing our thoughts around the differences between flying, gliding and floating

Sharing our thoughts around the differences between flying, gliding and floating

This coming week, the Teal Band will continue on with the design of the second iteration of their kite. We cannot wait to get it in the air.

Violet Band! 

Greetings from the north side of the mayonnaise factory’s “middle structures”, aka Violet Band headquarters! Natalie, Keyen, Clementine, Jacob, Harper, Zev, Sutchat, Trudy and Rich are happy to share that the new year is off to a exciting start, and the ball is rolling (or should I say the rocket is flying?) on By-Air. Over the past couple of weeks we have been getting to know each other, our bandspace, the school, Collaborators and peers.


Day 1. The students enter their new bandspace, and are greeted by the ultimate real-world problem solving exercise: the assembly of an Ikea office chair…



Introduction to hand-eye coordination



“By-Air” student generated brainstorm



Preparing for the library…



Travel around the city with them and you really get a sense of why they’re called “bands”.



Introduction to working with cardboard…




The Violet band makes geometry compasses out of cardboard.


Our first construction of the year was…kites! We began our builds by doing research on different types of kite design. Craft books and the internet offered a bunch of different designs, and each member of the band chose a design that was to their liking. Each design was different, and a few students chose to see how a scaled-down mini-kite version might do. Our building materials were rice paper, bamboo, string, and glue. Working with the materials was a challenge themselves, the delicate paper, HOT glue, and tangly string all gave us opportunities to practice our patience (with the materials AND our fingers).


More prepping of the bamboo…


The Violet band was not the only band to partake in a kite making adventure, and were joined by the Red and Teal bands on Bernal Hill. With the sun bright and the wind strong, our hopes were high. After climbing to the top of the hill, we all began to launch our kites…or at least try really hard to launch our kites… At the end of the day, only a few of our kites took to air, a few did imitations of a washing machine spin cycle before crashing into the Bernal churt, others fluttering a few breathless moments before dropping to our feet. However, the process was fun in itself, for attempting a launch became a cooperative effort between a person holding the kite, one with the string, and a third to film the experiment. Oh, and the view wasn’t that bad either.

The Bernal Hill International Kite Proving Grounds.


Teal Band’s group project reaches new heights, and inspires us all…


…and this is how we learn the most…



Back at Brightworks, we troubleshot why certain kites flew and others didn’t. An exploration of the forces affecting a flying kite, led us to an interest in calculating the surface area. Tinkering around with the idea led the students to discovering the equation for calculating the surface area of a triangle, and with this newfound knowledge, they were able to calculate a kite’s surface area. Scoring that goal with ease, the students were ready for another challenge. We brought another dimension into the mix, and they were off calculating the surface area of three-dimensional objects. A brief digression led us to explore how one calculates the gallons of paint needed to cover the exterior of a house (taking into account all windows), a concept we will use to better understand wing design as we move beyond kites next week…


The theme of kites has entered our literary world as well. We are reading the youth novel, Dragon Wings, by Laurence Yep. The story follows a young boy named Moonshadow from his village in China to San Francisco at the beginning of the last century. A stranger in a foreign land, the boy has to confront and understand the hardships of life in a foreign land, building a relationship with his father, and the technology that might allow him to fly as his father’s kites do. Class discussions about the book quickly move beyond exploring characters and particulars of the story, and venture into a land that addresses questions about society, sparked by comments such as; “I can’t believe they did that back then”, and “that’s so messed up”.


We’ve hit the ground running, and I for one am very excited to see what else we create and explore during the remaining weeks of our first short Arc. The students are very interested in exploring how music, sound, disease, and animals move around the world by air. Stay tuned to see how these interests manifest themselves in the weeks to come…

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!

The Balloon

This Friday the Blue Band’s balloon rose majestically through the rafters to screams of delight from the assembled morning circle crowd. For our band it was the culmination of three weeks of exploring, experimenting and problem solving.  The blue band was steeped in the physics, history and mathematics of ballooning.  Inspiration for their own balloon came from this documentary about the Montgolfier brothers.  Like the historians in the documentary the blue band first created a pattern for their balloon.

First week of Blue Band

Using snap together polygons Blue Banders created all different sorts of shapes.  Sadie wears the final design on her head.  The group decided upon the dodecahedron because it was simple and held the most air.

First week of Blue Band

We ran some experiments to try to and better understand the problems we might face.  The blue banders were given a table full of plastic bags and a blow dryer as a heat source.


What they discovered was rather counter intuitive.  Everyone hypothesized that the small bags would float better because they were lighter but in fact the group found that it was the larger plastic bags that floated better when filled with hot air.  Ramses and Lily are filling the largest bag with hot air.


To try to understand why big balloons float better than small balloons the Blue Band turned to mathematical modeling.


This problem was definitely a stretch.  Very few in the band had encountered volume problems before.


For some building cubes was a nice juicy challenge.  Others ran with the problem and discovered that in smaller cubes surface area was greater than volume and in larger cubes volume was larger than surface area.


When the volume is larger than surface area less heat escapes and there is more buoyant air than heavy material.  We learned from Evan that the advantage of a high volume to surface area ratio is why whales and other sea creatures are so big.  There is such poetry in this idea.  I envision balloons like gentle beasts swimming through the air and whales flying through the sea.  After all, we learned in this short documentary that balloons float in air for much the same reasons as other objects float in water.


So the Blue Band had to figure out how to make their shape BIG!  They used newspaper rolled into rods and cut to equal length to scale up the design.  Tamasen is taping together the edges of her pentagon.  She and her team are laying out the flat pattern for the dodecahedron design.  Recreating this design at scale was a great spatial reasoning challenge.


When Gita, Soleil and Lily’s team attempted to assemble their polyhedron they discovered that while the triangles were pretty sturdy the rest of the shapes flopped around like crazy.


When all of the shapes were assembled we realized we had a bit of a problem.  Not only were these floppy shapes hard to store, the patterns wouldn’t fit onto the plastic sheeting.  So the band went back to the drawing board.


We’ve been reading chapters from the wonderful book Problem Solving 101 by Ken Watanabe.  He gives all sorts of great problem solving tools and is a big fan of finding the root problem.  Instead of spending tons of time trying to tape together broken patterns and cutting endless shapes from plastic, we sat back and tried to redefine our problem statement.  Instead of trying to solve the problem: “How do we cut out this big pattern?”  We started trying to solve this problem: “How do we cut out 12 pentagons?”


Building off of each others ideas the band came up with a plan.  The band decided to fold the plastic.  We figured out how many times we would have to fold the plastic to get 12 hexagons.


They traced a single pentagon on the folded plastic and with one effortless cut created 12 identical pentagons that could be taped together.


With the balloon envelope taken care of, the Blue Band tackled it’s next problem:  The heat source.  Experimenting with the hair dryer convinced everyone that we would be needing a stronger heat source to lift our balloon.  The group got brainstorming.


Fire is a pretty dangerous element to be working with.  The group had to come up with a safety plan.  We mapped out all possible hazards and did our best to neutralize them.


In order to protect our hands and the balloon material from falling on the fire the band came up with the idea of a protective tube lined with nonflammable material.  Isaac dubbed this the fire tunnel.


Finally the Blue Banders donned their fire protective gloves and jackets to test their balloon!


The first test revealed some important adjustments that needed to be made.  The blue band had something that worked but needed to be tinkered with!

The Blue Band split up into two teams.  One team used scales to create a system to weight the bottom of the balloon.  The other team was tasked with making the opening at the bottom of the balloon smaller.  They cut out 5 trapezoids that were taped to the bottom of the balloon.

This project has been such a wonderful vehicle for learning all of the most important lessons of project work.  Set clear goals, make several iterations, play with your materials, when things aren’t working sit back and redefine the problem statement and finally tinker!  These kids were curious, perseverant and fabulous at collaborating with each other.  The way they encouraged each other and snapped ideas together was a beautiful thing to behold.  What a dream team!

Flight (and other stuff)

*This post is brought to you by the Orange Band students: Lucy, Justin, Roman, Amiya, Nora, Charlotte, Jeevan, and Phoebe. This post contains thoughts on the week, musings on what students would like to study, observations about projects and excursions, and helpful information. Enjoy!*


Flying Through the Air

by Roman

This week we were working on a kite and then we flew them at Bernal Hill. Thursday we saw Gever paraglide at Mussel Rock beach in Pacifica. We also have been reading The Kite Fighters. It’s a really great book, because we are now learning about kites and how they work. We also built a table for our band space so it would be more cool. Last week we did the marshmallow challenge in our band. Last Thursday we had the potluck at Brightworks.


Roman working on the the last kite iteration for flight practice at Bernal Heights Park.


Mussel Rock Beach

by Nora

On Thursday the Orange and Teal bands went to Mussel Rock to watch Gever paraglide. During our Mussel Rock excursion we saw a coyote,  learned about Mussel Rock’s movement and history and learned about Gever’s paragliding suit and chair. Apparently Mussel Rock was moving over the years to come were it is and it is not the same kind of rock that is around it. It is on the cost of San Mateo County, California, offshore from Daly City.

Is Gever flying -- or gliding?

Is Gever flying — or gliding?


Gever explains how his paragliding suit and wing work


by Amiya

Last week the Orange Band went with the Teal Band to Mussel Rock Beach to watch Gever paraglide. It was moderately cold, which is Gever’s prefered temperature for paragliding. When we got there, we walked along a dirt path and up to a hill. Gever then showed us what everything in his 50 pound bag was as he unpacked his paraglider. When he had unfolded the wing, he had us stand back and caught a gust of wind. With the paraglider open, he walked up a hill and was just about to take off when his paraglider wing fell from the air onto a prickly  bush. He untangled the wing and walked up the hill and off a cliff where he dropped down, but quickly rose to a much greater height. Gever came over to where we were and flew over our heads. He was only about 8 feet higher than where we were so we were able to talk to him briefly. Towards the end of his flight, we walked down the hill and saw a coyote that ran away from us as we made our way to the triangular patch of gravel where Gever was going to land. After he safely landed, he showed us a video he had taken from the air. I thought it was interesting to see Gever walk into the air and fly with only a wing, some very thin cords, and a chair.

Mussel Rock

Mussel Rock

Out and About This Week

by Jeevan

This week Gever went paragliding at Mussel Rock Beach. We watched him paraglide. It was fun. I also made a really big kite but I never got to fly it it. Instead I made a really OK-sized kite. I ended up taking apart the big  kite. We went to Bernal Hill this week too. And that is where we flew our kites.

Kite in flight over Bernal Heights

Kite in flight over Bernal Heights

Back up the hill

Back up the hill

I’ve Caught Kite Fever!

by Charlotte

I was really interested in Korean kites and so I researched and found this legend:

Once upon a time there lived a general named Han Hsin, he had to get into the enemy’s palace,

So he called on his soldiers to fetch him his kite. The next day they went to the palace. He held out his kite to measure how much length between the palace and his troops. Then he told all of his soldiers to dig and dig ‘till they had gotten underneath the palace. Then he tied his kite (which was a dragon kite) to a nearby tree, some say he tied it to the tree to ward off Enemies or evil spirits.

But others say it was to distract the enemies.


Here are some other cool facts about kites:

  • Kites were first invented in china when an old farmer tied a string to his hat so it wouldn’t fly away.

These are some types of kites:

  • Diamond kite
  • Delta kite
  • Box kite
  • Winged box kite
  • Dragon kite

Kites have come a long way from a hat tied to a string  to the kites we have now today!


Nora uses straws and connectors to make a first iteration of her cool box-type kite.



Orange Band members work on their second iterations: mini prototypes with toothpicks and hot glue!


Korean Kite Inspiration

by Lucy

Lucy used this model for a Korean fighting kite as her inspiration

Lucy used this model for a Korean fighting kite as her inspiration

This week our band was making kites I decided to make a Korean fighting kite. I decided to make one because our whole band was reading a book called The Kite Fighters it’s sort of good but I haven’t finished it yet so I don’t know. The kite fighters is set in Korea and they fly kites. At first we used plastic straw like things and weird connect things to make models. Then we made the actual thing with bamboo and rice paper. We used them today mine spun a lot I don’t know why but it did and it looked cool. It was really fun making the kite  it was exciting to see the kite that I made actually fly if you count spinning really fast uncontrollably as flying, if you don’t at least it wasn’t dragging on the ground all though it did hit the ground awfully hard and it did tare  a lot. Any way it was fun and that’s all that matters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😻 : )

Lucy and Nora engrossed in their new band novel, The Kite Fighters

Lucy and Nora engrossed in their new band novel, The Kite Fighters

On the hill!

On the hill!

Thoughts From a New Brightworks Student

by Roman

I moved schools. I was at Children’s Day School. It wasn’t so hard as I thought to move schools, because I had some friends. They also have a lot of freedom at Brightworks so I like that because I get squirmy a lot and they let you take a break when you need

Build It - Draw It - Solve It, Phoebe!

Build It – Draw It – Record It, Phoebe!

Moving to SF and Brightworks

by Jeevan

I moved 1 or 2 weeks before school started. I moved from Illinois. The weather was different in Illinois. It would get colder and hotter, but never like California which is in between. I also met a lot of people in California. I take the train to school a lot .                                                                                                            

Next By-Air Mini Investigation

by Phoebe

For our next dive into the arc, we should study vampire bats because they are really interesting. And they, well, are just really interesting! Bats are the only mammals that fly. Common Vampire Bats (Desmodus rotundus) are the only mammals who have a blood only diet. Vampire bats feed on mammals like cows and horses.  Vampire bats attack animals from the ground. Baby Vampire bats are called pups.Vampire bats only have a few teeth. I think we should study these animals because they are misunderstood (and evil! AND SO AM I! MUA-HAHAHAHAHA!)


Stuff We Should Do

by Justin

Justin worked on multiple iterations of this kite design of his own creation - made from bamboo, rice paper, and tape.

Justin worked on multiple iterations of this kite design of his own creation – made from bamboo, rice paper, and tape.

We should make hover boards or video games or robots. Or computers. Then we should go on a vacation (excursion) to somewhere really fun. Then we should make a treehouse  in our bandspace, then we should do NaNoWriMo in the treehouse, and we should be able to play video games in our bandspace. Then we should get a tv and lots of movies and games and an xbox and a VR set and stuff. Then we should rewrite the dictionary and make it the Totally Educational and Not Silly at all Dictionary for Kids, and sell it, then buy toys and pillows with the money and then we should make a giant pillow pit and make a pool and other stuff in our bandspace, then we make 734 more floors and have a free everything-you-want vending machine and then get everything we want, then go on summer break. Then build a copy machine, copy the earth and destroy one earth with a giant laser beam. Then build a make stuff machine and copy it lots with the copy machine and make lots of stuff.


Orange Band members also finally decided on a table design and put in hard work making a true and solid table frame. A helpful hint: Triangles!

After voting on a design, Evan helped Orange Band plan out and prioritize the build

After voting on a design, Evan helped Orange Band plan out and prioritize the build


First things, first: the frame

First things, first: the frame


Building fun!

Building fun!

Kites are flying. Gever is flying. Teal is flying.

This week the Teal Band set out to build and fly a tetrahedral kite, and along the way, learn some math, read some books, watch the man who started their school “fly,” and do some writing to contribute to this blog.

We began the week with a math exploration on tetrahedrons and some history around kites as modes of transportation. Huxley did some research into tetrahedrons and found out that “a tetrahedron is a polygon with four triangular faces, four vertex corners, and six straight edges. Tetrahedrons are one one of the strongest shapes for many reasons, but the main reason is that any force applied to them gets evenly distributed throughout their structure. Alexander Graham Bell, one of the major contributors to the invention of the telephone and a famous kite scientist, was the inventor of the tetrahedral design we used (for our kite.) He said he dreamed of “flying machines of the future” and theorized that kites could be controlled enough to transport humans. Tetrahedrons are also found in nature, and is a common molecule formation.”

The Teal Band began learning about tetrahedrons by building them out of paper and solving a puzzle.

The Teal Band began learning about tetrahedrons by building them out of paper and solving a puzzle.

We explored a number of kite shapes.

We explored a number of kite shapes.

We ended up deciding to build a tetrahedral kite together as a band. It required the band to construct a series of tetrahedrons.  Patrick explained the process of building it: You can make one by making a tetrahedron out of straws  then you put a layer of tissue paper over 2 of the sides. Next you put 3 of those in a triangle, and then put the fourth on top so the corners are touching. Ta-da! One tetrahedral kite! You can take four of these bigger ones and build an even bigger tetrahedron and so on and on.

To make sure we would have enough tetrahedrons for our kite and enough straws and string to build them, we completed a number of calculations. We found we needed 64 tetrahedrons, made up of 384 straws and at least 3200 inches of string. The amazing part was that this didn’t phase the team of kite builders, instead it pushed the crew to work even harder.

We constructed 64 tetrahedrons out of straws and string.

We constructed 64 tetrahedrons out of straws and string.

Jared wrote that our kite looked “amazing”, but was “afraid it won’t fly because we didn’t tie the knots tight enough, and it will fall apart in the air. The other half of me thinks it will fly perfectly, and it will have no problem flying at all, because we already tested a piece of it in a “wind tunnel”. A wind tunnel is a huge tube with a fan at the bottom of it. We also have studied about kites, so that’s another reason why one part of me thinks that it will fly.”

Freddie shared that on Thursday morning, “we looked into fractions and angles. We started by reading a book called Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith to warm us up. We followed along and did the math questions along the way. After we finished the book we took out pattern blocks. We used them for fractions and learned about the angles. We played with them for a while because that’s just what Brightworks kids love to do. After we got a feel for them, we started to notice how they are just like fractions and some fit with others.” After creating proofs around the angles and the different relationships, they built kite designs using the pattern blocks and transferred them to paper. Taking what they had discovered about the fractional relationships, they added up the “total” of their designs, choosing one of the shapes to represent the “whole.”

It all started with the book Math Curse.

It all started with the book Math Curse.

Exploring angles and fractions in geometry with pattern blocks.

Exploring angles and fractions in geometry with pattern blocks.

Thursday afternoon led us on a journey that not many students can say they have had or will ever experience. The Teal Band, along with the Orange Band, went to Mussel Rock Park in Pacifica to watch Gever fly, a.k.a. paraglide. Selina connected strongly with this trip and shared that, “Mussel Rock is (as you might have guessed) a rock, that got pushed up from in between two tectonic plates, and is from far away. But we didn’t go to Mussel Rock to study geology, we went to watch Gever paraglide. When you paraglide, you sit in a padded harness with strings attached to a large wing above you. The wing is actually two pieces of cloth sewn together with little compartments. The front of the wing is open, trapping the air and making it possible to fly. It’s really amazing to watch someone fly just using the wind coming from the ocean, but you can’t fly in normal wind, you need it to hit a mountain or a cliff and move upwards. Someday (once I convince my parents to let me), I want to paraglide, too.”

It's pretty amazing to watch the man who started your school jump off a cliff and

It’s pretty amazing to watch the man who started your school jump off a cliff and “fly.”

Friday was the big day. It was the day we would find out if all our hard work had paid off. If Jared’s predictions were correct. We headed to Bernal Hill with the Red, Orange and Violet bands. Piper shared her excitement around the day and our kite. “It flew really well, but we hadn’t expected it to fly because right before we got it in the air it kept falling apart and it wasn’t easy to put it back together. It was hard to get all the tetrahedrons ready and tied together before we had to go. We took turns holding the string to help it soar. It was so much fun.”

Aurora became our master kite flyer, testing out multiple ways to keep it in the air. She found that giving the string a “tug” now and then helped get it back up into the air if it began falling. She successfully taught a number of others how to fly it and was a great cheerleader for everyone who tried.

Aurora, Piper and Selina patiently pieced the kite together and even let those from other bands fly it.

Aurora, Piper and Selina patiently pieced the kite together and even let those from other bands fly it.

This was a week of not only building a kite that actually flew or learning more about geometry and fractions, but it was a week that really focused on being a team. The Teal Band didn’t end up with seven separate kites. They ended up with one kite that was truly successful because all seven band members had worked together to build it.

“Up to the Highest Height”

I can’t believe it, but it was only the second week of school. The Red band has tackled a new school and learning between two different spaces. We continue to learn more about each other every day while we embark on our study of – The Movement of Things: By-Air. This week we began with a brainstorm session around important concepts to cover during this arc. Some ideas were: wings, wind, air, flying, soaring, and flapping.

Kite week taught us many lessons on the importance of stick-to-itiveness, problem-solving on the fly, and testing our theories.


 Our week started with our vitamin on symmetry. After reading Let’s Fly a Kite: Symmetry by Stuart J. Murphy, the kids were charged with creating their own symmetrical kite out of pattern blocks. We continued to explore symmetry with some cardboard shapes and rubber bands and symmetrical painting in preparation for the week’s challenge of constructing a kite.


The kids began by creating drawings of their kites on 8.5″ x 8.5″ paper, then scaled up to 3′ x 3′ butcher paper patterns. We used tape, Tyvek, wooden dowels, and polyethylene tubing to create our kites.


Our final step was to venture to Bernal Heights hill and test our creations.


And with some perseverance and observation we had many crashes, mends,  and one high-flier!