Model Builders

With the changes in expression project structure this spring 8 students from different bands have grouped together to make models of places in San Francisco! During the brainstorm stage many students suggested building particular dioramas as a possible project. Each student joined the group with a solid idea of what building they wanted to create and the worked as a team to bring their ideas to life.

Week 1

Students began by sketching the dioramas they wanted to build and coming up with a cohesive group vision and plan. This included deciding how we would put the project all together and what everyone’s role would be. Some students decided to team up for their builds and others decided to plan a solo project. Soleil joined the project with an intention to make a map and the group loved how that element would help bring the structures all together.

Week 2

Students started their second iterations by noticing how the 3D shape of their building could be made as a flat net that folded into the 3D shape. Students practiced drawing their shapes on graph paper to explore how to ensure that the proportions didn’t change as they shrunk their building into model size. Students also did research to find deatailed plans or maps of their buildings to make sure they fully understood the porportions of their buildings.

Midweek we visited Malcolm Kenter’s studio to observe how the artist used accessible items to make detailed models. He introduced us the the idea of using shrinkydinks to add detailed lettering! We also had the chance to go to scrap and pick up reuse materials for our final builds.

Week 3

Students started the week by sharing out their second iterations and asking the group a few questions to guide the feedback they felt they needed before their next step. For example, Isaac wanted to know what kinds of details he should focus on for his Palace of Fine Arts build since his building was so detailed.

Now students are hard at work addressing that feedback as they build their final models for expo night. The models are getting even bigger, so students are coming up with strategies to stretch their work to a larger scale. Some students are getting ready to use an overhead projector. Other students are working with larger graph paper and multiplying their lengths.

Next week we will be continuing construction and beginning to add details.

BBS has a Spectrum of Stories to Share!

Blue through Amlet Bands brainstorming Expression Project ideas

Expression phase is looking a little different this year! With our new home, slight time setback, and adjustment in resources, Blue, Orange, Green, Teal, and members of Amlet decided to take Expression in a different direction, with group projects! In order to form these groups, we had students brainstorm ideas of anything and everything they wanted to do for Expression.

Story-Telling Group organizing our different interests and ideas

The Brightworks Broadcasting Service (B.B.S.) initially came together as a group of students who wanted to do storytelling for their Expression projects, under the aptly titled group name “Storytelling.” During our first brainstorm, kids shared out the different ways they wanted to tell stories—through a choose-your-own-adventure book, a skit, a nature show,  a graphic novel, a series of restaurant-reviews, a show about drawing. As we pieced together these different ideas, we decided to form our own broadcast station modeled after KQED and PBS. We called it BBS—the Brightworks Broadcasting Service! Our goal is to educate our community about fun, interesting and delicious activities and places around us.

We worked on our group declaration and presented to our peers our plans and ideas. As we did for Amlet and the other multi-band expression groups, we were assessed in the areas of:

  • Weekly Goals: How realistic and clear are the weekly goals presented for this project?
  • Resources: Does this project have clearly defined, realistic, and enough resources  in and out of our current space?
  • Research: Does this group have specific and relevant books, videos, and other media that can support the project?
  • Roles and Responsibilities: Are there enough clearly defined roles for all of the individuals in the group throughout the project?
  • Impact and Audience: Does this project help both creators and the community?
  • Magic: Does this project have that special something that we all look for in a project?
Emilio captures the mission state of BBS

We received incredibly thoughtful and helpful feedback from Amlet and our friends in the SF Models group…and were approved! Our work was cut out for us with just 6 total weeks left of school and a variety of days out and about, and so, BBS set to work!

Lisa and BBS planning out our 6 weeks of Expression work

Made up of Ramses (Green), Nolan (Orange), Emilio (Orange), Thomes (Teal), Charley (Orange), Apollo (Green), Dash (Blue), Sakira (Green), Amiya (Amber) and Erik (Violet), the BBS crew is creating the following shows for the public’s viewing pleasure:

Research is an important component of show writing
  • Bugs and Small Animals with Dash: a nature show that features our smallest friends found all around us
  • Sketch with Sakira: Sakira will host a drawing tutorial show for the art-lovers in our midst
  • Apollo’s Bite!: Apollo will sample and review a Tacolicious lunch for our audience’s enjoyment
  • Charley’s Comedy Corner: Charley’s love of comedy is infectious and will delight audience members of all ages and bands
  • Reading Rainbow with Thomes: Thomes will read aloud two original stories–a comic co-authored by Emilio and Nolan, and a choose-your-own-adventure story written by Jack Bloodstone
  • Synesthesia Studies with Erik: Erik will explore the concept of synesthesia, a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses (such as sight).

Amiya is filling the role of producer for these educational and fun shows, working with each show writer to create and maintain a pre-production and filming schedule, as well as providing general feedback and support.

Apollo interviewed a manager at Tacolicious for his review on the restaurant – tune in for his take on pastrami tacos!
Sakira and her film crew films her intro and outro for Sketch with Sakira

With our line up set and students excited to get going, we spent our first two weeks preparing for filming days. Show writers considered the intended audience and purpose for their shows before they began writing preliminary scripts, scouted locations, and reached out to experts and the community. Our authors worked on first and second iterations of their stories, writing furiously and voluminously. Preliminary shots were taken and shows were really starting to come together. We just needed a little inspiration and background understanding of just what makes public media so special.

BBS Crew giving feedback to our authors

And what better way for our fledgling public television station to prepare for our first broadcast than to visit KQED! BBS took a trip to San Francisco’s venerable radio and television station. We got an exclusive behind the scenes peek at all of the moving parts that go into public media!

Behind the scenes at KQED! Did you know the station uses one room to film many different shows?

Stay tuned for when we air our shows on June 3 and 4! BBS is sure to entertain, inform, and delight!

Green Band Explores Color Meaning Around the World

Over the first four weeks of the Rainbow Arc, the Greenies have been studying color meaning in different cultures around the world. This exploration was inspired by a conversation that we had as a band on Chinese New Year (during Spark Arc), when I’d come to school wearing a red shirt and “gold” (yellow) pants. Both colors signify good luck and fortune in Chinese culture, and are traditionally worn for the New Year as well as other celebratory occasions, such as weddings. While I explained this to the Greenies, we talked about other color meaning in Chinese culture, and they were surprised to hear that the color white is representative of death and mourning, an association that seems counterintuitive considering Westerners often associate it with purity and blank slates. Once Rainbow started, we decided to take a deeper dive into what these different colors mean in different places and to different people. We kicked this off with a free-association brainstorm of what we think of around different colors.

Green Band free-association color brainstorm.

After collecting our various associations with colors, each student picked one color to be their “focus color.” This would be the color that they study in depth to understand what it means in different parts of the world. We had four main goals and skills to develop during this study: research, note-taking, growing our understanding of different colors, and then presenting that information. Blaise and Ramses picked black, Apollo chose yellow, Soleil studied white, Sadie did red, Tamsen and Sakira picked purple, Isaac chose blue, and Lars did orange. (I modeled by studying green.)

Sadie and Isaac takes notes on their focus colors, red and blue.

In the Band Space, students read articles, books, and watched videos that talked about the meaning of their color in different places. Using our various sources, the Greenies practiced taking notes based on what style worked best for them, most chose to use bullet points. Some students found that they occasionally learned conflictual information about their color, which made things a little tricker.

Ramses sharing what he learned about the color black in different East Asian countries.

This exploration was also one of our most field-trip packed. Out on the field, the Greenies visited three different museums—the Asian Art Museum, the Legion of Honor, and the de Young. We also took a walking tour of 24th street. Our first trip was to the Asian Art Museum, where we looked specifically at the Chinese, Korean and Japanese collection. During our visits to the museum, Greenies were asked to look specifically for their color, and then to compare the way their color was being used in the art piece to the information they had learned through research in the Band Space. For example, I learned that green in China can be a color associated with good luck and happiness, which is part of the reason jade is so popular. At the Asian Art Museum, I found jade jewelry which I believed was probably worn as a way to bring good fortune onto its wearer.

Lars, Sakira and Tamasen seeking out their focus colors in Chinese snuff bottles at the Asian Art Museum.

Our trip to the Legion of Honor focused primarily on Western Art, with a lot of Christian imagery, as well as Greek and Roman mythological references. We did a scavenger hunt there, looking for different colors being used in specific symbolic ways, for example images of red as a sign of war or violence. Something else that the students noticed at the Legion was the lack of diversity in many of the subjects. Greenies pointed out that it was almost all white people in the art pieces.

Blaise observing a colorful piece of Christian art at the Legion of Honor.

Based on this observation of the lack of representation, we decided to shift our focus for our trip to the de Young. Instead of only looking for our focus colors, the Greenies were also challenged to notice who was featured and who was not in the paintings. (Or perhaps, who was featured in the backgrounds, on the sides, as accessories to the main event?) We watched Titus Kaphar’s TED Talk “Can Art Amend History?” to inspire us. At the de Young, students specifically sought out figures in the art pieces that clearly weren’t intended to be at the center of the painting, and imagine what they might ask or say to those less prominent figures.

Soleil and Tamasen seeking out images of under-represented figures at the de Young.

As a culmination of our work, the Greenies put together individual slide shows that talked about their focus color, and 3-4 different cultures’ ways of thinking of their color. Students also had to include a picture they personally took (not from the internet!) that represented the color’s symbolism. Students could take pictures of things out on the street, at a restaurant, from our museum collection, or even out of a book. This proved to be pretty tricky, especially for cultures that we do not see as frequently represented in our communities. However, the kids got really creative, and we ended up with some awesome and informative presentations!

Apollo shares his slides on the color yellow.

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.

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!

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.

Green Band Explores Heart as Metaphor for Identity

What better Arc to start off the 2018-19 school year with than the Heart Arc? It is the arc of love, friendship, romance, centrality, identity, strength and life! In our first few weeks of school, the Green Band has been analyzing the heart on both a biological and metaphorical level. Through the lens of heart as identity, Greenies have engaged in a number of explorations and exercises that have allowed us to bond and get to know each other as a band. I can say without hesitation that the Green Band already feels like a family.

Green Band’s name stories

For one of these exercises we created Identity Icebergs, in which the surface of the iceberg shows what one can see on the outside (brown hair, nose ring, tattoos—don’t worry, that one is mine), and below the surface we wrote traits one would only know if you got to know us (lives alone, has 2 cats, has ridden a motorcycle—again, me). Another exercise involved discussing our communication styles. We talked about different communication styles through the metaphor of animals. What might it mean to be a tiger, eagle, turtle or wolf communicator? And which style resonates with you? We also worked in pairs to fill in Buddy Venn Diagrams as a way to get to know one another. Students asked silly questions like “if you were a dessert, what dessert would you be?” to see what they had in common and what what they felt differently about.

Greenies work on Buddy Venn Diagrams to get to know each other.

Another way we have jumped into the arc topic is by analyzing art and asking ourselves “what is at the heart (center) of this piece?” During our first week of school, we took our question to Clarion Alley, and evaluated the murals there. As a band, we found and wrote about murals that advocated for same-sex marriage, mourned the loss of small business pushed out of the neighborhood, paid respect to nature, and advertised the use of Narcan during times of emergency. In addition to naming what was at the center of each piece, Greenies had to back up their answer with evidence from the mural.

Soleil taking notes on a mural in Clarion Alley.

Combining our heart mural analysis work with our identity work, Greenies each came up with a symbol or illustration to represent what is in their heart. Their only restriction? It could not be the traditionally shaped heart. Inspired by heart-spark-rainbow themed pins made by Teal Band Collaborator Melissa, each member of the Green Band drew out their idea on GoogleDraw, and then used the Glowforge to laser cut their designs with the help of Loren in the shop. For some of us, it was our first time using the laser cutter, which was very exciting. Next step is for students to turn their laser-cut items into pins or earrings so they can wear their heart “on their sleeve,” so to speak.