Last Friday was a celebratory end to our explorations on kites, from making, flying , and testing them to spending time on the finer details of designing them. Our exploration culminated in the hanging of the Ice Dragon Kite, a symbol of Indigo Band that represents each of us in the whole.

Drawing, painting, and finishing the kite took time and practice. We reviewed geometric principles of circles, triangles, angles, and kites. We reviewed how to correctly use a compass and read a protractor accurately. We applied these skills directly in designing geometric patterns to make up the body of the kite and in constructing the panels themselves. We also talked about the waste that was created when making a circle and other methods for being conservative with our materials.

Below is a blog post from Kaia explaining her process of designing and building her section of the dragon kite:

“Last week we went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art with my band (Indigo) and our neighboring band Amber, to practice our visual thinking strategies to help us with the following weeks. In the same week, we started exploring kites and experimenting making our own. That Friday, we went to Bernal Hill and tested them out.

Last week, we agreed that we should make a decorative dragon kite. Each band (Indigo and Amber) would make there own dragon. In order to do so, we reviewed the basics in geometry, on the whiteboard and on Khan Academy. We practiced how to find the area, circumference, radius and diameter of a circle. We learned what formulas to plug your numbers into. For example to find the area of a circle, you square the radius then times it by pi. We will need to know this because the most important part of the dragon kite is its body, which is made up of cardboard circles. It is important to know how to calculate the area so that we know how much material we need and how much is being wasted. That was probably my favorite thing we did so far. I really enjoy getting a concept and being able to practice it without any mistakes, and being able to explain it well enough. It means I’ve learned it.

Back to the dragon kite, we are still in the process of of making the body, which involves making geometric shape design inside the circle that we each have so carefully made. To do this we are using protractors, compass and calculators. Earlier in the week we learned how to use these tools, and how to find the right angles for the shape you want to create. For example, if you wanted to make an nine sided shape (nonagon) you would first draw the radii of the shape, facing towards the top. Then you would divide the number of sides you want by 360, since we are working with a circle. What ever answer you get is the angle you want. You would get 40 in this case.

Next, you take the protractor and line it up with the line you drew at the beginning. Once you find the 40, mark it. Then draw a line from the mark to the middle using a ruler. Do the same thing but every time just line the protractor up with previous line you just made. After you got nine lines, connect them from the edge of the circle. Ta da! Nonagon!

In my design, I have two nonagons, one square and one triangle. I have them overlapping in different ways to make a cool design. Now all I have to do left is to make it pretty. On monday, we read this poem called “I Am From” by George Ella. It’s about where the writer was from, what his house looked like, his family, all starting with, I am from. We all rewrote this poem with our own stories. We are supposed to incorporate this into our dragon kite design, by drawing each thing from our poem in the spaces between the shapes.

One of the parts asked for two family members, and I put my two guinea pigs, Milou and Musli. They’re in the bottom right part of the square. It also asked for a plant that connects with you in some way. I chose a ginkgo tree because it used to be the tree that lived outside my old house. Lastly, it said to describe your house, and I put dark wood, because that’s the first thing you see when you walk in. There are many more but I’m not going to explain them all.

I think the most challenging part of this project was not getting confused with all of the numbers, shapes and angles. We did this exercise to make the ring to support the circle frame. You had to find the area of the circle, the ring, the smaller circle, the square and how much was being thrown away. All doing this by knowing these three numbers, the square was 12 by 12, the radii of the big circle had to be six and had to be one inch thick. This would have been easier IF, I had taken better notes. And didn’t get carried away with writing my peers names in cursive.

That being said, next time I will take my notes in a more orderly fashion and make it easier to read for the sake of my teacher (and me!). I think that will help with my thinking process and help me understand what I am doing, and hopefully help me become an improved learner.”

Following the creation of the panels, we spent the afternoons last week creating a head for the dragon, figured out how to hang it, and finishing up some minor details. It now hangs beautifully in front of our band space! Big thanks to Kaia for authoring a wonderfully detailed post.

Thanks for reading!

Phillip