Sparking Inspiration

The #brightworksbeehive has been in full swing this arc. Twice a week the kids rotate through arc-specific centers. During ⚡ we focused on light by exploring the building blocks of all things- atoms, bioluminescence in nature, and ⚡s in outer space with our closest star, the sun. In preparation for switching our gears from exploration to expression the #brightworksbeehive took a trip downtown to explore LMNL, an immersive and interactive art exhibit.

Upon our return we reflected on all of the ideas and concepts we learned about during exploration and our favorite aspects of the LMNL experience. We were able to identify and connect what we had learned with what we saw to design two ⚡ experiences for our expression projects: a water room and an outer space room.

With help from the Yellow band, we outlined the project process for the Red band. Next we split into two groups to prepare our plans. This week we will get to work and are excited to share how our ideas come to life. Stay tuned!

Green and Orange Bands Study What Sparked Japanese Internment during WWII

Back during the Heart Arc, the Green and Orange bands visited the de Young Museum for the Weapons of Mass Seduction: The Art of Propaganda exhibit, which displayed propaganda art from WWI and WWII. Semi-inspired by this trip, Green and Orange decided to embark on a deeper exploration of what sparked the United States to get involved with World War II. From there, we took an even closer look at the question of what sparked the U.S.’s decision to intern hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans for several years during the War, an event that strongly impacted the West Coast of the United States, but is often not the focus in WWII discussions.

Apollo, Sadie and Soleil at the de Young’s Weapons of Mass Seduction exhibit during Heart Arc.

Because California was and continues to be one of the most densely populated states for Asian-Americans in the U.S., our Bands were very lucky to be able to attend so many field trips which specifically documented and paid tribute to the people and places affected by Japanese Internment. To kick off our study, we went to the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, where students learned not only about internment, but also about the history of Japanese immigration to the United States and even the specific history of Japanese people in San Jose. One of our docents, Yoshiko Kanazawa, was interned as a child, and so students were able to directly ask her questions about her experience. From Yoshiko, we heard not only about the lack of privacy at camp, which she considered to be one of the most challenging aspects, but also the variety of attitudes Japanese-Americans had towards being interned. For Yoshiko, her family encouraged her and her siblings to maintain a positive attitude and trust that they would only get stronger from their time in camp. She explained that other people at the camp were much angrier at the U.S. and felt that their imprisonment was hugely unjust and wanted to fight back, which lead to disagreements and resentment amongst the Japanese Americans.

Yoshiko Kanazawa giving a tour to Green Band at JAMsj.

The Green and Orange bands also attended the EXCLUSION: The Presidio’s Role in World War II Japanese American Incarceration exhibit in the Presidio, which gave students the opportunity to examine primary sources and artifacts related to our study. For example, the exhibit contained replicas of the first order issued by the Western Defense Command and Fourth Army Wartime Civil Control Administration to people of Japanese ancestry instructing them on their evacuation. These documents were published in the Presidio, and students engaged in an activity where they had to reflect on what it would feel like to see such a poster that may target their own ethnicity or background.

Blaise, Lars, Emilio and Lola looking for resources at the EXCLUSION exhibit in the Presidio.

Back in the Band Space, Green and Orange drew from a number of different sources on the events of Japanese-American internment in order to broaden and expand our understanding of these historical circumstances. We read My Dog Teny by Yoshito Wayne Osaki—a story about a young boy who had to leave his family dog behind when relocated to a camp, analyzed excerpts from A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn which looked at the events leading up to WWII with a critical eye, watched historical videos that presented a more objective perspective, watched a Ted Talk by George Takei who was interned as a young child, and even listened to a song by Fort Minor which described the artist’s grandfather’s tragic experience in Manzanar. Perhaps our favorite source throughout the study was the historical-fiction graphic novel, Gaijin: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner.

One of our in-school resources.

Gaijin told and illustrated the story of a young half-Japanese, half-white boy named Koji from San Francisco who is interned with his white mother at the Alameda Downs. Due to his biracial heritage, Koji is seen as an outsider, or “gaijin,” by people both inside and outside of the camp. While dealing with the hardships of being interned—including being bullied, missing his father, and feeling untrusting towards his mother, Koji struggles to find his identity. Through our reading of Gaijin, Greenies analyzed the book’s themes, images, language and characters, allowing us to further understand that, like Yoshiko had mentioned at the museum, every Japanese-American who was interned by the U.S. had their own individual experiences and responses to the events.

Sully (before he moved to Teal Band) reading Gaijin.

Our culminating field trip for our Japanese Internment exploration was our three-day journey to Lone Pine, CA, where we had the unique opportunity to visit Manzanar, one of the few camps (now a National Historic site) located in California. Driving roughly 10 hours, the brave students, collaborators and volunteer-parents stayed two nights in the town of Lone Pine, located in the Owens Valley, and spent one full day visiting Manzanar. At the Historical Site in Independence, CA, toured by Park Ranger Alisa, the students of Green and Orange were able to not only see the actual location of the camp, which was a dusty desert surrounded by the stunning and colossal mountains of the Sierra Nevadas, but also go inside the restructured barracks, latrine, and even have lunch in the original mess hall. In the visitor’s center, students learned about different individuals who were kept at Manzanar, and the struggles, tragedies, joys and successes they experienced during their time interned.

The Green and Orange Bands at Manzanar in Independence, CA.

Red Spark Start

In the Hive each collaborator chose a spark to concentrate on throughout exploration and mine is the Sun. During our center time we have learned about the Earth’s rotation and revolution around the sun and how that affects day and night around the world.

Before watching the video I shared with the kids that I wanted to learn more about the sun as part of the spark arc because I thought it might be the first spark! “Yeah the sun and stars are the hottest!” Nishka added and Bo shared, “The oldest spark is in the desert. It’s like electric.” “We could find a spark in a thunderstorm,” Mira thinks and we agreed, lightning is also a spark!

  

In the Red band we are reading myths from around the world about how light was brought to the world. We began with Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest then read Fire Came To The Earth People a story from West Africa. After reading Raven the kids helped create a summary. Once we finished reading Fire Came To The Earth People we each chose one story to continue telling in our What could happen next? writing time. Our most recent read-aloud The Sun Girl and the Moon Boy from Korea had us all on the edge of our seats as we waited to hear if the son and daughter would outsmart the tiger! You can see our continuation stories below.

 

From left to right:

Sky Chief takes the sun back and gives the planets, the stars, the milky way, and the solar system. Mira

Raven comes down from the sun and there is a trap but Raven doesn’t see it. Sky Chief is looking through the bushes in the forest since he put the trap there. Sky Chief will grab the trap and put it in a box when Raven gets in the trap. Bodhi

My story Sky Chief, the moon, and Raven. And the black sky because it’s nighttime. Val

Sky Chief had a hook to catch Raven. Brother Bald Eagle came to the rescue but Sky Chief’s daughter was there. The peregrine Falcon dad showed up and dived down. The squirrel mom went up to save them. And hummingbird cousins went to distract them by going all different ways. The toucan and parrot showed up and made so many sounds. And then the vultures showed up to scare them away so the peregrine falcon can dive down. The falcon is going to unlock them up. Leithan

Sky Chief might give the moon and the sun. Ariadne

Raven took the sun. The god was mad. Raven was happy. Anya

Mom, Raven, Dad, Sister, and Brother are happy. Angelina

Chameleon will get more straw and then Moon God will realize that is it actually mean. She will give them more things because she made the Earth and she should take of the Earth. Nishka

After the Raven puts the sun in the sky a super volcano erupts and Sky Chief dies because of the magma. Emir

We will continue to read more myths about the sun, moon, and stars and experiment with ways to show the relationships between all three and the Earth. Stay tuned for more Hive adventures.

Green Band gets cooking!

The Green Band has sparked our Spark Arc with one of our favorite topics- food! Side story: On our first day of school this year, while each child was sharing what they were excited about, Sakira said she was excited to be in my band because I’m the “cooking collaborator.” A number of children nodded and agreed with her. I was completely unaware of my reputation as the “cooking collaborator,” and having only cooked a couple of times last year with my band (which didn’t seem like more than any other collaborator), I wasn’t sure where it’ had come from. Nonetheless I have felt some pressure to live up to my reputation, and I do really love to cook.

Last year’s Greenies eating tacos they made, leading to my reputation as the Cooking Collaborator.

Thus inspired our cooking unit. Cooking is, by definition, “the practice or skill of preparing food by combining, mixing, and heating ingredients,” so why not explore this idea of heat and food through a scientific lens during the Spark Arc? The Greenies started the unit by each receiving a carrot. We observed the uncooked carrots, took notes, and then each decided on a different way to cook our carrot. We microwaved a carrot, boiled a carrot, grated it and fried it like a latke, roasted it for different lengths of time, and even tried to light one on fire (it did not work). Kids checked for changes in the color, texture, size, smell and taste. We then shared our results with the band.

Isaac cooking a carrot-pancake.

After our open-ended carrot experiment, the Greenies then designed their own experiments following the Scientific Method. Students asked themselves a question they wanted to answer about food, formed a hypothesis, and then designed their own experiment. We talked about what a testable question is, learned complex scientific vocabulary like “independent and dependent variables,” and what a “control” is. The Green Band hit the grocery store and then performed their experiments in the kitchen.

Ramses was very excited to compare his control chocolate with his habanero pepper chocolate!

Working either independently or in pairs, the Greenies conducted their experiments carefully to test their hypotheses and answer their food questions. Blaise boiled a jalapeño to see if it would change the spice-level, Tamasen and Sakira fried a peach to see how it affected the texture, Apollo microwaved a potato to see how it changed the texture and color, Soleil fried berries to analyze their look, smell and taste, Ramses made chocolate mixed with habanero pepper to see what happens when you mix sweet and spicy, and lastly Sully fried peas to see if it would change the texture. (Isaac and Sadie were not at school for our first round of experiments.) Each experiment had a control so that kids were able to accurately compare their experiment group to the untouched produce.

Sakira and Tamasen compare their fried 1/2 peach with their control 1/2 peach.

After finding and sharing their results, the students tweaked their hypotheses and redesigned their experiments, changing one element, but keeping the rest of the variables the same, for a last and final experiment. Blaise roasted his jalapeño, Tamasen and Sakira toasted their peach, Apollo pan-fried his potato, Soleil baked her berries, Ramses added pepper to chocolate milk, and Sully fried a half head of cabbage. Isaac was able to pan-fry his potato slices, and Sadie attempted to fry watermelon slices. We got some delicious, some mushy, and some gross results. We followed up these experiments by reading an article on how different cooking methods affect nutritional value.

Sadie fries her watermelon slices.

On December 7th, Greenies will celebrate our cooking experiments by hosting Community Friday. Hope you’ll be there!!

We promise we won’t serve boiled jalapeños!

Blue Band Heart Work

Hi everyone! It’s been a quick and busy start to the new year. Today the band reflected on our journey during heart and how surprised they were that we learned about the heart as a symbol, feelings, friendship, and anatomical hearts all in one arc!

 

He(art)

We started the arc by learning about two artists that were both deeply passionate creators and used heart imagery in their work: Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Then we made our own paintings that show a pose that reflects us.

            

Chairs

Next we designed chairs to practice the idea that “work is love made visible” (Kahlil Gibran). Since our stools were only on loan from the art space, students had to design a chair to use this year. We started by drawing designs and adding measurements based on our bodies and other chairs we like to use. Then they made small, 3D prototypes to see if their design needed any changes and start thinking through. Lastly, after building the chair students spent a day using them and went back into the shop to make any needed changes.

 

Anatomical Hearts

We also learned about how our hearts work by using and making stethoscopes, making a model of blood, dissecting chicken hearts, and talking to a cardiologist.

 

Teamwork

Along the way we’ve been talking about feelings that our close to our heart and how to notice how others are feeling for we can help them. We used role play to help us brainstorm solutions to common social challenges. We have also talked about what makes good teamwork to lay a foundation for all the work we will do together this year. We also talked about how we are in control of our choices and made a remote to help us think of tools to help us stay on the right channel, think through our decisions, and feel encouraged along the way.

Getting inspired about math

To start our year off we used Jo Boelar’s 3 weeks of inspirational math curriculum to think about norms around how we do math as a community and learn about the way our brains work while we do math. We learned how to verbally defend our solutions and about the way our brains grow as we make mistakes and struggle with a problem.

 

Writing a map of our hearts

Lastly we spent heart arc getting to know each other through sharing our interests and stories in writing. We started by making drawing of all the important people, places, activities, and objects that our close to our hearts. Then we wrote many stories about these things. We’ve been working on making mental movies for our readers through using descriptive language, stretching out every small, important action, and using the same tequniques as our favorite authors. One day during our writing study we went to the community garden in the neighborhood to think about how we can use our senses to come up with descriptive language.   

 

Propaganda Party!

As an extension to our work with murals, art and identity, the Greenies continued our Heart Arc with a study of propaganda, where we continued to ask ourselves “what is at the heart of this piece?” We learned that propaganda is information—often presented in a visual way—that is used to convince its viewers to believe or follow a certain point of view. We discovered that the term “propaganda” first came into use in 17th century Europe by the Catholic Church during the Counter Reformation. As a band, we studied several different types of propaganda, including bandwagon, testimonial, framing, and fear tactic. Student viewed different propaganda images and then sorted them into categories. We found that many of the images could fall under two or more categories, and also came to the realization that propaganda is everywhere around us!

Band Space propaganda poster

To gain some more historical understanding of propaganda, the Greenies headed to the de Young Museum exhibit, Weapons of Mass Seduction: The Art of Propaganda, with the Orange Band. The exhibit, which focuses on World War I and II propaganda, gave students the opportunity to take their analytical skills developed in our work around art and identity, and apply them to historical posters and films. Looking at the extensive exhibit, we asked ourselves who is the targeted audience? What is the message that is trying to be communicated? How can you tell? Some of the posters that we found most interesting were the ones that communicated the idea that nobody could really be trusted, and anybody could be working for the Axis Powers, so keep your mouths shut. We noticed the ways in which different people were depicted in the various propaganda images, including those who represented the “good American citizen,” and those who were clearly meant to be untrustworthy.

A WWII propaganda poster from the “Weapons of Mass Seduction” exhibit.

The Greenies also took a walking tour of 24th Street, where we looked for propaganda and discussed the different artists’ intended messages. We discovered that propaganda isn’t always posters, but can come in different mediums too, such as stencils or murals. We found that a lot of the murals on 24th Street could be seen as propaganda, and that the majority of them had messages around preserving the culture of 24th street. Some of the examples we found included concepts and vocabulary that we had to break down and interpret as a group.

Propaganda stencil piece found in various locations around the Mission.

Back in the Band Space, the Greenies were put into 3 groups to create their own propaganda posters. The first, and perhaps trickiest step, was to come up with a message they wanted to spread to others, forcing them to reflect and ask, “what belief do I feel passionate about and want to pass on to those around me?” Coming up with a message while working in groups required some compromise and creativity, which led us to do some additional reflection around what it looks like to be a good teammate. Eventually the groups established three very different, but important, messages. Sakira, Soleil and Sully settled on making a poster around affordable housing; Ramses, Sadie and Blaise focused their poster on promoting the drinking of kombucha; Apollo, Isaac and Tamasen decided to create a poster that promotes reusing trash and recycled goods. What seemed to come easiest for the propaganda groups was coming up with catchy slogans to promote their ideas. (These kids should go into sales, I swear!)

Ramses, Sadie and Blaise research and work on their kombucha propaganda.

The groups designed their posters in four iterations, and gave each other feedback in between each iteration. While looking at one another’s posters, we asked, “is the message of this poster clear?” and “can we identify what type of propaganda this is?” For some of the posters, we noticed that the graphics and slogan were eye-catching and clever, but the intention of the poster was unclear. On others we saw that there was a clear message, but it didn’t really fall into any propaganda type. This exchange of feedback required students to listen to their peers openly, be flexible, and persevere. Developing these skills will help all of us when we finally enter our first Expression phase next Arc!

Soleil, Sakira and Sully’s poster.

Tamasen, Isaac and Apollo’s poster.

Sadie, Blaise and Ramses’s poster.

#redheart

Let’s take a closer look at how our youngest community members are approaching this years first arc 💜. We started our exploration with a few questions. So what is a question?

I prompted the kids with question starters such as: how, why, I wonder, and I don’t know. 

We simplified our questions down to three fill in the blanks: How do X’s hearts works? Why do X’s have hearts? and I don’t know (why our hearts are the size of our fists)?

Once we asked our questions we illustrated them.

Next up we looked to our library of body books for answers.

Rich’s first science lesson included heart parts courtesy of chickens passed, veins, and heartbeats.

Once we had our questions and some concrete answers to a couple of our questions we asked, How might we see a heart in action?  Models, videos, and X-rays were possible solutions. Rich stepped in with some plastic tubing and a hand pump to give us a simulated experience- we added the red food coloring, for accuracy of course.

Our second lesson helped us see how a heart pumps blood out to the body and how it circulates back to the heart.

Early on I asked the kids what they thought a 💜 symbol meant. We thought it might show that you like or love someone or something. Such a wonderful place to start. We continued with this idea of what we might love or like and read Uugghh by Claudia Boldt. This story of a slimy slug who worries he might not be loved. A confident spider helps slug learn that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, starting with yourself, and learns that everyone’s opinions differ from finding beauty in red, the postman, or poo. Together we brainstormed what we thought might be beautiful like dresses, castles, and worms. In the end we realized that our idea of beautiful began with a feeling we had tied to these feel-good and feel-happy objects. So on to our feelings we went. Each day we read a short story about a different feeling and tried to think of why those characters felt that way or a time we also felt that way. Then we took a picture to help other’s see what our feelings might look like.

💜 got us off to an exciting start to the year and was rounded out by our outdoor adventure! I wonder what ⚡️ will bring?