Throughout the exploration phase of the By-Land Arc, the Orange Band has studied the movement of people and things, notably, but not exclusively, our food. A thread that runs throughout all of our explorations is people’s work to amplify their own efforts for a greater result.
Orange Band students brainstormed the ways that we explored concepts by-land and found a through thread in innovation and advance towards an amplification of human ability
When we wanted to move farther or more than we could carry, we turned to stronger beasts of burden. Later technological advances led us to vehicles of greater and greater advancements in speed, ability, and complexity.
Even in looking at our food, we are constantly looking to get more from our plates. The ancient porridges of ground wheat and water became, by accident, the starter for the first breads, food of greater nutrition and value.
At this stage in the students’ career at Brightworks, students are presented with a challenge, and constraints, within which students have the room to be creative and innovative in their response to the challenge! We spoke of the counterintuitive phenomenon constraints can actually encourage and breed creativity in a way that no boundaries might not.
With the idea of amplifying human effort for greater results, Orange Band students were challenged to make a machine that amplifies the work that one turn of a hand-held grain grinder yields by 2, 5, or 10 times.
Kiddos experimented with the grain grinders, testing the strength needed to grind barley, prior to designing machines to meet the challenge.
Such a challenge necessitated an (ongoing) exploration of simple machines, and a greater understanding of gears and gear ratios. The research began in earnest and Orange Band students worked individually and in partnerships to craft articulate, well-thought out declarations for approval.
Phoebe, Charlotte, and Lucy devoted their energies to step-by-step conceptualization of how they would realize their project ideas.
Jeevan consults Huxley for feedback in how to make his ideas clearer for the reader.
In response to the challenge, Orange Band students’ ideas ranged far and wide!
Phoebe and Charlotte took a page from our brainstorm at the beginning of Expression and decided to turn to animal labor as a way to amplify human effort:
We will make a hamster powered energy barley grinder with gears to amplify Cloudy’s (the hamster) efforts on her wheel. Our desired product is a working hamster wheel that will amplify human efforts to make flour.
Charlotte and Phoebe’s project build – the first iteration
Gever and Charlotte discuss their next steps in their attempts to make wooden gears on the band saw for the project.
Roman decided to meet the challenge using a vehicle–a remote-controlled truck, that is!
I would like to see if a remote control truck can power the grain grinder. I will have to make a loop for the car to turn around on, and I will have to connect the car to the crank. I will make the loop 2 1/2 feet in diameter so the car will have room but make a foundation. I will remove the handle and replace it with a bolt I’m going to have the bolt attached to the grinder and not the handle so then the car will move the bolt and not the handle. I want to be able to compare how much grain is milled after 2, 5, or 10 loops of the remote-controlled truck.
Roman worked through multiple iterations and prototype versions of his project before signing up for an approval meeting.
Justin opted to focus on the power of the grinder itself, exchanging the object to be ground up for a sweeter option:
In order to meet the challenge [given] I will create the Gearatron-o-matic 90211, a machine that will be able to increase the power of the grain grinder using gears to increase torque or speed depending on how strong the grinder is already. If it is already really strong I might increase the speed, but that decreases torque so I probably won’t do that. On the other hand increasing torque decreases speed so one turn might not do much, but it will mow through almost anything.
Justin created sketches of his project ideas from multiple perspectives – leading up to the green light!
Embodying the mantra that Brightworks embraces (“Everything is interesting!”), Jeevan was inspired to take the idea of amplifying human efforts into a new direction: gardens and irrigation:
I will amplify human effort to water plans, by making a rain machine which will make it a lot easer to water plants so you just have to turn on the hose and it will be raining in your garden and all the plants will be watered.
Another idea that the Brightworks disciple adheres to is that we are the school that says, “yes!” to the passions and interests of the students. When the Movement of Things By Land arc began, both Lucy and Amiya felt particularly inspired to explore their deepest interests: animals and cars, respectively. Being a place of learning that encourages such self-identified pursuits, Lucy and Amiya set off on very different paths than the rest of the band.
Amiya’s sketch belies the complexity inherent in making a working manual transmission!
My desired product is a working manual transmission made out of Lego bricks. To meet the challenge, I will research manual transmissions and how they work. To address the challenge, I will make a working manual transmission out of Lego. I want to do this project because I want to learn how a manual transmission works, and I would like to put it in a big Lego car after this arc is over.
Part of the declaration process is seeking out and identifying potential experts to consult during Project Time.
Wolf – Pygmy Rabbit – White Tailed Deer – Polar Bear
The challenge that I have to adress is to make a board game about animals that walk on land. The game will also be a little bit educational. The players might learn about the four animals involved in the game. I will meet the challenge by making a board game about animals walking on land. In my board game there will be cards that have setbacks and advantages depending on your animal. Each player will be a different animal ether a polar bear, a wolf, a pygmy rabbit or a whitetail deer. Each player starts at a different place on the board depending on where that type of animal lives, but all the animals are trying to get to one place. I chose this project because I like animals and board games.
Clearly, we have been nothing short of a whirlwind in the Orange Band, with these declarations and projects up front and center!
But our time this arc phase has not only been in the realm of declarations and projects. Our mornings have been filled with explorations in opportunities for math in the day-to-day contexts of the most unlikely of places: pet food stores!
Using the context of price comparison, students have been developing an understanding of ratios, how ratio tables work, and the ways that fractions are added and subtracted in real-life situations. Working within carefully crafted scenarios, kiddos have been exploring with visual math and manipulatives to build and further their conceptual understanding of big ideas using models.
The “landscape of learning” that students move through and within during our current explorations of fractions, decimals, and percents. The rectangles represent landmark strategies students use; the ovals show the big ideas; and triangles illustrate the models students use along the way.
Lucy and Phoebe use visual representations of fixed ratios of dog food ingredients (linking cubes of different colors) to keep fractional proportions accurate.
Charlotte takes the time to write and draw out her understandings. Careful note-taking and representation of the concepts become resources to return to as the explorations continue.
Amiya uses multiple ways to represent his work throughout the context exploration.
As the weeks continue, students will navigate the landscape for learning, moving from one model or strategy to the next as the big ideas become more and more clear!