From the History of Fashion to NaNoWriMo

We began our exploration of the history of fashion and historical events that have influenced fashion trends, with a sort of clothing trends through the centuries and decades.

After recording our personal observations of the various fashion trends, we discussed how we saw history’s impact on clothing. One thing that stood out in regards to women’s fashion was that we saw more suits or male influenced business attire in those decades affected by war such as the 1940s and 1960s when women were having to work, and a return to more “traditionally feminine” clothing in the 1950s when women tended to be back to their role of housewife.

We’ve begun weaving, but it isn’t all just fun and crafts. Rich has turned weaving into a math provocation. After creating their looms, the band calculated how much yarn they would need to complete their personal weaving projects.

Sometimes we take a moment to work on something unrelated to the arc. After learning about Jacob Thompson, a nine-year-old boy with Stage 4 high-risk Neuroblastoma, the Teal Band decided to make his wish for Christmas cards come true. These kids have such huge hearts.

Jonah crafted a pop-up card.

Jacob’s favorite animal is a penguin and Natalie put her wonderful drawing skills to work immediately.

What would the Cloth Arc be without an exploration into pattern making? After watching a video on pattern making and creating a step-by-step list of the process, the Teal Band set out to make patterns for an item of their own clothing.

After creating the pattern, the band was tasked with calculating the area of their pattern to figure out how much fabric would be needed to create their garment. They explored the various shapes that made up their shirt pattern and the formulas used to solve for these areas.

My friend Tiff, a costume designer and maker, came in to share her story and work with the Teal Band a number of others. We learned that she sewed her first successful dress at just age nine and has been designing and making costumes professionally for almost thirty years. We were certainly interested to hear about her time making a number of costumes for the Hamiton touring cast.

Viggo jumped at the chance to be turned into a living paper doll in one of Tiff’s costumes. We learned that she loves costume design because it’s often just that much more fun than your everyday garment.

They began a chemistry lab with Rich on Friday, making their own soap. (Check back for a more detailed story of this lab from Rich.)

And I can’t forget NaNoWriMo. They are writing every spare moment they have, that’s on top of the time set aside just for NaNoWriMo. I’m pretty certain they would be happy writing all day, every day if  I let them.

Sometimes it’s nice to get out and write in a new setting. This week, NaNoWriMo took us, and our friends in the Violet Band, to Maxfield’s Cafe. It’s pretty special and empowering to be writing next to a big table full of adults working on their own NaNoWriMo novels.

Cloth Stories

To begin the Cloth Arc, the Teal band has started with what they know best, themselves, looking at the stories their clothing tells.

Our clothing says a lot about us. It gives others a sense of our identity. Through the telling of our Cloth Stories, we looked at what our clothing also says to us. Our clothes have incredible stories to tell.

To begin our process, the Teal Band selected an item of clothing or cloth (or few) to record its story. Sometimes the story focused on who gave it to them. Sometimes it was what it reminded them of. Sometimes it was just how it made them feel.

The Teal Band took filming seriously and made sure they were happy with their filming location and backdrop. It’s pretty awesome when eight opinions can come together as one.

Our stories and storytelling styles not only shared the story of our clothing but also shared our personalities and passions.

Sometimes that cloth item took on the form of a purse to carry all her favorite goodies, or a stuffed whale that reminds him of his family, or a sweatshirt from one of his favorite places and times in his life.

Human proportion is a big part of clothing and design. The Teal Band has been working with Rich to learn about drawing and proportion. It gets even more exciting when the math lesson starts. Is your head actually 12.5% of your total height?

And what is the human form without clothing in the Cloth Arc? Once they learned to draw a proportionate human form, they also learned about drawing different types of clothing. Aurora is ready to design her own dress line.

Have I told you already that the Teal Band is a creative bunch who love to draw?

Thanks to Rich, we have a new generation of fashion designers in the making.

Just in case you are interested in seeing where Cloth might take us this arc, here is our incredible brainstorm.

And NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow!!! Planning has been a ton of fun.

The Coin Arc Was a Valuable Experience

It’s pretty incredible when you take a six-week journey with eight 11 and 12-year-olds through an arc entitled “Coin” and you spend the majority of your time talking about personal value and social currency. We explored symbols of value, both those which are recognized by the masses and those we find value in individually. We wandered through the streets of the Financial District and the galleries of the SFMoMA. Taking advantage of the high supply and low demand for Giants game tickets, we took in a baseball game and a collection of baseballs. We designed our own dollar bills after exploring those from all around the globe. We found math in money in everyday life and even more when traveling the globe, converting international currencies. And as all middle schoolers enjoy, we shared our opinions and formulated arguments…just ask them if they think America should get rid of the penny.

Here is a visual journey of our Coin Arc exploration:

Exploring US Currency

Building our note-taking skills.

Along with our drawing skills, which the Teal Band certainly has.

Discovering new figures in history.

Recording what we find in creative ways.

Taking a moment to listen.

And listen some more.

Recording our thoughts and reflecting on our learning.

Finding patterns and creating order.

Making observations.

Working as a team.

Sharing with one another.

Working through multiple iterations.

Creating a final product.

Exploring our past.

Putting ourselves in that past.

Exploring old things that are new to us.

Taking note of what we see.

Continuing to hone those drawing skills.

Sending one another messages.

Just going for the ride.

Taking a moment to have some fun and take it all in.

Discovering that we really can learn anywhere we go.

 

 

Finding Value All Over the Place

The Teal Band began their second week of the Coin Arc exploring US dollar bills in pretty much every way they could think of. Hearing there is an owl hidden in the corner of the one dollar bill, the band called on Rich to lend them a dissection microscope to take a closer look. They all agree they saw one.

We tried a number of techniques to look closer at the security thread in the $5, $10, $20 and $50 bills. The band looked for all the anticounterfeiting techniques used in the bills they were examining. These included the security thread and watermarks, as well as unique serial numbers.

We recorded details of each bill we examined, including mottos, symbols of value, and drawings of people and places.

Sometimes we even became the old, white men we found on the bills.

Reflecting on the symbols of value we found on the dollar bills the previous day, we went on a scavenger hunt for them and other symbols of value in the Financial District along with the Violet and Amber Bands. We certainly found a large number of eagles adorning the massive buildings, housing everything from banks to Starbucks to gyms.

We learned about William Alexander Leidsdorff, a West Indian immigrant of African Cuban ancestry. He built the City Hotel, the first hotel in San Francisco, and the first commercial shipping warehouse, along with becoming San Francisco’s first treasurer.

Leidsdorff was also one of the earliest supporters of San Francisco’s public school system. He was good with money and knew where to put it.

Continuing to look beyond just monetary currency in regards to symbols of value, we stopped to observe and take rubbings of our Zodiac signs in front of a Wells Fargo bank. It’s interesting to find out how different people value their Zodiac sign and the qualities attributed to them.

Moving on from the Financial District, we took our exploration of symbols of value to the SFMoMA. We found value in the artwork we encountered, especially those focused on sound. We valued the calm, meditative qualities of the bowls beautifully chiming as they came together in Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s clinamen. Many of us even discussed how we could build our own at Brightworks.

Exploring a number of other works of art in Soundtracks, we reflected on how much we value our ability to hear. It is amazing to explore a piece of art, both silently and when accompanied by sound.

Thanks to a visit from the Danish Department of Education, we were handed a few Kroner and told their approximate conversion rate. This spurred an unplanned, but much enjoyed math lesson around converting international currency. Not only did the Teal Band solve the currency conversion problem, but they also got a crash course in decimals and mental math. In the end, they all said they wanted to do more conversion problems. Yay!

Venturing back to the Financial District in the third week of the arc, the Teal and Violet Bands visited the Wells Fargo Museum. We quickly learned that we were standing in the exact location of the very first Wells Fargo bank. The tour guide threw many questions out to the two bands regarding the gold rush and even without any preparation before the trip, the bands proved to themselves that they had a lot of prior knowledge on the subject. Do you know why the gold coins received in exchange for gold nuggets included a small percentage of copper? The Teal Band knew thanks to their lessons with Rich, and some old Rock Arc knowledge…gold is quite soft and pure gold coins would be malleable.

We learned about Wells Fargo’s stagecoach history of carrying money, people and mail across the US. How many times have you screamed, “SHOTGUN!” in hopes of riding in the front passenger seat of the car. Well, if you rode in that seat on the stagecoach, you’d certainly need a shotgun since it was your job to protect the bags of gold and money tucked under your feet.

After all this money talk, who doesn’t value a day out at the ballpark with their friends? The Teal Band certainly values it, especially when tickets are as cheap as $6 a piece. We also value getting the chance to see how our hands compare to those of Barry Bonds.

Thanks to our early arrival, we were able to make our way down next to the visiting bullpen mound. Getting this close to the field and the players afforded us the first two baseballs we collected that day.

Looking out at the small crowd (for AT&T Park standards) of fans out at the ballpark, we got a quick visual lesson on supply and demand. When the team isn’t doing so well and the stands aren’t filling up, ticket prices drop dramatically to get more fans into the ballpark. This worked to get us in there.

By the end of the third inning, the Teal Band had worked together to get enough balls tossed to them by players and coaches for everyone in the band who wanted one to have one. How do you think they upped the personal value of these balls? They got them signed by mascot Lou Seal himself.  What did I value most that day? All those smiles and an usher coming up to me to say she’s never seen such a generous group of kids working together to make one another happy.

The ballgame wasn’t all just fun and games, there certainly was some Coin Arc related activities going on beyond personal value. We completed a ballpark food pricing scavenger hunt that will grow into a lesson on food budgets, as well as lessons on supply and demand and buying power. They are keeping their fingers crossed that the demand remains low and the supply stays high at the start of the season in April so that we can make a return trip to the ballpark at the end of the school year.

 

Our Year of Connections, Beginning with Coin

This year we want to dive deeper into what it is we really want to know and to do that, we need to ask questions and seek answers. As a way to begin this journey of questioning, instead of brainstorming ideas around “coin,” we brainstormed the specific questions we are interested in answering. Three full chart papers later, there are still questions not written down here that fill their journals from their personal brainstorms.

The Teal Band is an experienced crew in the shop, even our new additions are experienced thanks to Tinkering experience. While it is important to have a refresher orientation in the shop every year, this experienced crew was ready to take on shop orientation 2.0, the next steps, with Brendon, Gever and Evan.

We received a lesson from Gever on precision cutting on the chop saw. The word of the week at Brightworks is “kerf.” Kerf, the groove or slit created by cutting a workpiece; the width of the groove made while cutting. We now understand the importance of the placement of the blade to our measurement to get proper dimensions. 

Evan spent time sharing new ways to more strongly and cleanly screw together two pieces of wood. These ways of joining wood will take this year’s projects to new levels and I expect to see a lot more countersunk screws.

How can you cut out a path or a complex interior shape on the band saw? With Brendon’s support, we learned ways to explore interior angles that allowed us to get into tight corners. Geometry continues to play a huge part of our experiences in the shop.

Shop orientation 2.0 included cutting mazes on the bandsaw. It’s certainly not as easy as you’d like it to be.

To launch into our reading of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, we listed off what we know or think we know about Native Americans and middle schoolers, two things that speak to the main character Junior. Throughout our reading of the book, we will continue to look at Junior’s experiences as a Native American from a Reservation going to a “white school” off the rez, and how he values his experiences, his culture, and those in his life.

Along with reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, we are listening to the book 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker. This is Cami’s story of how giving transformed her life when she felt she had nothing left to give due to her illness. The Teal Band will be spending a lot of time this arc looking at the ideas of value and personal currency. Along with listening to the book, the Teal Band is also taking on the challenge of giving 29 Gifts in 29 days and we invite you to join us.

 

Expressing Themselves By Sea

Already three weeks into the Expression Phase, the Teal Band is full steam ahead on their projects. We’ve experienced chemical reactions, learned research techniques, discovered how helpful handwritten notecards are on a day when the internet is down, crafted, experimented and done a lot of writing.

Piper: So far I have made things–sea themed stuffed animals and soaps with little turtles in them– to sell to raise money for sea turtles. And handed out flyers so people know about it.  I have worked on making a book that’s going to talk about sea turtles and what they do. I hope that everyone will come to my craft fair at Umpqua Bank (24th St – Noe Valley) this Saturday. The banker is buying enough ice cream for 200 people, and says he’ll run out and get more if we need it!

Piper’s stuffie sea creatures for her sea turtle rescue fundraiser.

Nora: This morning, I was going over my paper and was disappointed to find it was way too short and I did not have enough information on the fish that lives in sargassum (if you want to learn about that you can read my research paper on expo night,) So, Melissa found some information on it which I looked over and we figured out the Sargassum fish is related to the angler fish (which i am kind of obsessed with I did a blog post, a model and a Prezi on earlier in the year) so I was very excited about that turns out I really like that kind of fish.

Nora’s sargassum seaweed models in clay and felt.

Huxley: I have done the chemistry and figured out that my super-corroding alloy has (in terms of the hydrogen it can produce) an energy density 13 times than that of a non-rechargeable lithium-ion battery! I have also created a design to implode hydrogen safely.

Huxley’s hydrogen measuring system. He’s gone through loads of vinegar.

Selina: My algae seem to be growing according to my expectations. I had a jar of plain seawater that I put a little fertilizer in. I checked on it today and it there was algae growing. This proves that if we were to dump iron ore into the ocean, as I am theorizing, algae would grow.

Setting up Selina’s algae experiment.

Jonah: I have been working on connecting my smaller gear to my big gear. The gearing is so that I can make it so that when the big gear that is connected to the water wheel spins enough to make the smaller wheel that is connected to the generator. I am going to work on the second iteration of the water wheel today.

Jonah’s first iteration hydropower plan.

Aurora: Moving forward in my project, I’m learning about the challenges of building shipping container homes. I would also like to learn about the different shapes of shipping container homes. Lastly, I would like to learn about how different architects are getting around the challenges of using shipping containers as homes.

Aurora has begun laying out her shipping container home.

Jared: I have done a lot of research and I have started to receiving emails from my experts. So far, besides doing research, I have begun working on my mini-documentary using iMovie.  Melissa has helped me organize my notes and helped me a lot.

Jared has been doing a lot of research on dolphin communication.

Patrick:  These last weeks before expo are always the hardest because you always like “Oh, this project is horrible compared to everyone’s projects.” I think I did well, for something that I’m not good at focusing on. I still need to do 1/3 of my project in a week. So, this should be fun.

Patrick is up to 13 followers following his fiction on RoyalRoadL.

Freddie: I feel and little stressed but I am finishing up my research paper. I am going to have a talk with Willow to start to help me with my drawings as I have already sketched them out. I’m ready to be done but my research paper needs a little more work and I feel like I am having writer’s block right now but hopefully I get it done in time.

Freddie is researching, writing and drawing about buoy and acorn barnacles.

As a little break from all their project work, the Teal Band enjoyed a lesson on dyeing natural fibers (silk) using natural dyes. They boiled cabbage and fig leaves to create their dyes. Exploring a bit of chemistry and pH, they played with their colors by dipping their dyed silks in different acids and bases.

Learning to dye silk with natural dyes from cabbage and fig leaves…with a bit of math and chemistry added in. Thanks Sierra.

Writing away and posing for pics with Mr. Manatee for the yearbook.

Launching into Expression

The last few weeks have been busy. We’ve explored the stories of the Chinese immigrants in Chinatown, researched sea creatures, made paper mache models, prepared declarations, and even made lunch for the entire school. Now it’s time to fully launch into projects. This time around we have a wonderful collection of projects that truly speak to each Teal Bander and their interests. Below is their proposed project introduction from their declarations.

SelinaI am proposing to do a series of experiments on algae:

  • It turns out that the limiting factor of algae growth is the amount of iron in the water. In combination with researching how much oxygen algae produces per square inch and calculate the amount of algae that would need to be grown to counter the carbon footprint produced by the average family, I would like to try increasing the amount of iron in the water to figure out how much iron would need to be dumped into the ocean to counter the family’s carbon footprint production. This could be used in huge quantities to stop, or at least slow down, global warming.
  • Growing algae in different solutions such as different salinities and pHs to observe possible variation in growth rate.
  • Growing algae in polluted environments to observe what effect global warming/pollution will have on algae growth in the future.
  • Try growing Euglena gracilis, a type of algae, under a heat lamp. Euglena gracilis is a type of algae that, when grown in temperature from 31 to 35 c, loses it’s color and turns white.

Along with my experiments, I want to write a small research paper on sea anemones, specifically the giant green anemone, and their symbiotic relationship with algae.

PiperFor my project, I am proposing to learn about the ways people and organizations help to save sea turtles. I will write a research paper on sea turtles and the reasons they need saving and the ways people work to save them. I will also find an organization to support. I will make sea creature stuffed animals to sell and raise money for the organization. I will include a little “bio” about each type of sea creature with them.

PatrickI want to write an online fiction on the hosting site RoyalRoadL.

I found it a while back in January and have been hooked on it ever since with about 24 open fictions that I am keeping up on. I’ve wanted to write one of my own for about two weeks now and believe my project time will be well spent doing something I’m passionate about. My fiction will connect with the By Sea Arc because I will be incorporating research around hydraulics, fire pistons, and sailing cultures such as the Vikings.  I won’t really need anything for this project, just time, wi-fi, a computer and my imagination. Overall, I think this would teach me to be prepared for deadlines and how to focus better on what I’m supposed to be doing.

NoraFor my project, I will be trying to figure out why sargassum is suddenly coming to the shore in mounds and mounds making it impossible to swim.  I will also write a paper on sargassum, along with making a detailed model that would explain all of the different parts (e.g. the purpose of the grape-like balls filled with air so they will float on the surface of the water.)

Jonah: For my project, I am proposing to build a mini hydropower plant. This hydropower plant will use water to power a light bulb. Water will travel through a canal and over a waterwheel to create the power. As this is my first project, I want to take on something that won’t be too difficult, but is still fun, so I can take my time learning about the project phase. Huxley is helping me with the understanding of the energy flow. I think the hardest part about my project will be getting power from the generator to light the light bulb. I will also be researching hydropower, such as the positives and negatives of its use and creation.

JaredMy proposed project is on dolphin communication and echolocation. Dolphins are seen as highly intelligent and appear to have a language of their own that consists of whistles and clicks. I am interested in researching more about how they communicate with one another and their communication process in general, both through sounds and body language. Along with communicating, they use their clicks to help them echolocate. I will be writing a research paper and creating a short documentary on dolphin communication and echolocation.

HuxleyInstantly inflatable devices for drowning prevention have been released out into the market, however, their compressed CO2 system does not allow them to be larger scale than a personal device such as a bracelet that inflates to the size of a small balloon. Super-corroding alloys are made by combining a noble metal and a highly corrosive metal. When in contact with water, the noble metal forces the corrosive metal to corrode at an extremely accelerated rate, forming corrosive metal hydroxide or oxide, and a gigantic amount of H2. I want to create a instantly inflatable flotation device using supercoroding alloys, as proof of concept that this process would be able to produce a larger scale flotation device.

FreddieI, Fredrica Lipsett would like to propose my By Sea arc project where I study the natural history and evolution of barnacles. I would like to:

  • write a research paper,
  • make a major evolutionary family tree poster
  • do a dissection of both barnacle species  
  • anatomical drawings and draw diagrams of barnacles.

As there are over 1,400 different species of barnacles, I have decided to do my research on two specific barnacles. The first is the Acorn Barnacle which is the most common and the second is the Buoy Barnacles.

AuroraFor my project I am interested in researching the transportation of goods by sea. This project would include a number of parts:

  • Tracking an object from where it was made to Brightworks.
  • Interviewing experts in manufacturing and shipping to understand the manufacturing and delivery process.
  • Research how goods are packaged, how efficient it is to ship them from point A to point B by cargo ship, as well as how truck and train transportation affects the cost, monetarily and environmentally.
  • Make a model of a shipping container that, in an emergency, will float so that there will not be so many shipping containers at the bottom of the ocean where they scrape the hulls of boats and hurt the ecosystems.

These next seven weeks will be another wonderful adventure through the Expression Phase.

The beginning of our journey down the Barbary Coast Trail, The Granite Lady, the Old Mint.

Recording our reflections on our visit to Angel Island and Chinatown.

Our collection of paper mache sea creatures we researched.

Making breakfast for lunch for Community Lunch. Delicious!