Violet Band! 

Greetings from the north side of the mayonnaise factory’s “middle structures”, aka Violet Band headquarters! Natalie, Keyen, Clementine, Jacob, Harper, Zev, Sutchat, Trudy and Rich are happy to share that the new year is off to a exciting start, and the ball is rolling (or should I say the rocket is flying?) on By-Air. Over the past couple of weeks we have been getting to know each other, our bandspace, the school, Collaborators and peers.

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Day 1. The students enter their new bandspace, and are greeted by the ultimate real-world problem solving exercise: the assembly of an Ikea office chair…

 

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Introduction to hand-eye coordination

 

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“By-Air” student generated brainstorm

 

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Preparing for the library…

 

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Travel around the city with them and you really get a sense of why they’re called “bands”.

 

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Introduction to working with cardboard…

 

 

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The Violet band makes geometry compasses out of cardboard.

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Our first construction of the year was…kites! We began our builds by doing research on different types of kite design. Craft books and the internet offered a bunch of different designs, and each member of the band chose a design that was to their liking. Each design was different, and a few students chose to see how a scaled-down mini-kite version might do. Our building materials were rice paper, bamboo, string, and glue. Working with the materials was a challenge themselves, the delicate paper, HOT glue, and tangly string all gave us opportunities to practice our patience (with the materials AND our fingers).

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More prepping of the bamboo…

 

The Violet band was not the only band to partake in a kite making adventure, and were joined by the Red and Teal bands on Bernal Hill. With the sun bright and the wind strong, our hopes were high. After climbing to the top of the hill, we all began to launch our kites…or at least try really hard to launch our kites… At the end of the day, only a few of our kites took to air, a few did imitations of a washing machine spin cycle before crashing into the Bernal churt, others fluttering a few breathless moments before dropping to our feet. However, the process was fun in itself, for attempting a launch became a cooperative effort between a person holding the kite, one with the string, and a third to film the experiment. Oh, and the view wasn’t that bad either.

The Bernal Hill International Kite Proving Grounds.

 

Teal Band’s group project reaches new heights, and inspires us all…

 

…and this is how we learn the most…

 

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Back at Brightworks, we troubleshot why certain kites flew and others didn’t. An exploration of the forces affecting a flying kite, led us to an interest in calculating the surface area. Tinkering around with the idea led the students to discovering the equation for calculating the surface area of a triangle, and with this newfound knowledge, they were able to calculate a kite’s surface area. Scoring that goal with ease, the students were ready for another challenge. We brought another dimension into the mix, and they were off calculating the surface area of three-dimensional objects. A brief digression led us to explore how one calculates the gallons of paint needed to cover the exterior of a house (taking into account all windows), a concept we will use to better understand wing design as we move beyond kites next week…

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The theme of kites has entered our literary world as well. We are reading the youth novel, Dragon Wings, by Laurence Yep. The story follows a young boy named Moonshadow from his village in China to San Francisco at the beginning of the last century. A stranger in a foreign land, the boy has to confront and understand the hardships of life in a foreign land, building a relationship with his father, and the technology that might allow him to fly as his father’s kites do. Class discussions about the book quickly move beyond exploring characters and particulars of the story, and venture into a land that addresses questions about society, sparked by comments such as; “I can’t believe they did that back then”, and “that’s so messed up”.

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We’ve hit the ground running, and I for one am very excited to see what else we create and explore during the remaining weeks of our first short Arc. The students are very interested in exploring how music, sound, disease, and animals move around the world by air. Stay tuned to see how these interests manifest themselves in the weeks to come…

Violet Band: (Second to) Last Week of School

Presentations started this week. The afternoons are full of other bands showing off their hard work. Our presentation afternoon isn’t until next Monday, so we’ve been furiously working to finish our projects and create our presentations and get the space set up (broken down?!) for next week – our last week of the school year.

Jack’s project was to build a robotic arm. He prototyped it out of foam core, and then learned computer-design through fusion360 to 3D print his final iteration. This project evolved into his end-of-year arc project, and it was awesome. To supplement his work, he also researched and wrote a paper on robotic arms and their use in space. Here’s his first prototype (with foam in the background):

Here’s his second:

For her project, Zada researched, interviewed, surveyed people and experts around the country on their understanding of altruism. Skeptical that true altruism exists, she explored the research in an unbiased, objective way in order to analyze and see if humans are truly capable of giving back and being selfless, or if the motive is still self-serving. Zada wrote a research paper to share her findings.

Cyrus’ big project was to learn Python. To do this, he worked through several smaller projects, building off of his knowledge to create the next one. Through Trinket, he started with creating different image generators, with lines, angles, and colors varying for each version. The second project was to understand circles and parabolas, drawing them through code. The final project was to create a self-sustaining conversation. Programming two different voices and randomizing their outputs – but still making the conversation make sense – was the final step on this iteration of his end-of-year arc project. Here’s a slide from part of his work:

Max’s project was to work with the city of San Francisco to help support RC pilots. Currently, the city’s policy bans all flight apparatuses in parks, but he’s trying to update that. In this project, he presented a proposal to the SF Parks and Rec department and was left with a promising, “let’s see what we can do.”

Laurel‘s doing a couple of different projects. For one, she programmed a baby arduino screen to read and mimic human facial emotions. For the other, she’s building a tesla coil. This big, beautiful copper coil that sparks lightning and makes music. She spent weeks on both projects, reaching out to various experts, balancing design and debugging, and building really awesome work. She’s still in the middle of her tesla coil – it’s huge and powerful. Here’s a diagram of how it works:

Cassandra decided to program a “RamsBot” in Trinket. Sitting to chat with her chatbot replicated a conversation with her brother, Ramses. It was perfect. Continuing her long-term project, Cassandra further developed her space-station. After finishing (and creating a model of) the algae-based air filtration system during seed arc, she switched gears and began designing all of the blueprints for her floating city in space. She even built a to-scale paper model!

Sayuri and Josh, of course, decided to do a community building project. They partnered with a local nonprofit organization, Lava Mae, to design a fundraiser. Lava Mae turns old muni buses into mobile shower stations for the homeless in SF. Eventually, Grace and Harry were also added into the project. The night of the event, the entire band helped support the Lava Mae team, and we raised over $1000 from donations alone! The even happened at the very end of the year, and served as their arc project. They’re using the week to wrap up the paperwork and the art deliveries. (See images from the night in the blog post below 🙂

For most of the arc, Harry spent time working on his skin. He went to several weeks of intensive skin treatment and therapy, and was able to come back at the end of the arc looking and feeling great. We missed him so much, but are so happy he was able to work on his “human” ! He decided to share about this journey during presentations on Monday – which is a bold and vulnerable move. I’m really proud of him.

While all of this is going on, everyone is mostly interested in making sure the “Alan Rickman Experience” – a tribute show to David Bowie and Prince – goes off without a hitch next week.

Photos from Unbelavable Night!

Photos from the Violet Band art auction to support Lava Mae yesterday during our Unbelavable Night!

We raised over $1000 in donations alone, and are so happy to give back and strengthen our community with partner (and future BWX family!) Lava Mae.

This was truly an all-hands-on-deck event – from donating art, to setting up the space, to being our guest, to bidding on the goods! We truly appreciated the support and commitment from our school in our hard work. It could not have happened without them.

The Violet Band is so happy to have had this shared experience, and grateful to give back to our community during Human Arc.

And, as an added bonus, people came in from the street and asked if we were a professional art gallery! 8)

Violet Band: An Unbelavable Night

After several weeks of work and planning, tonight is the big night! Students in Violet Band partnered with different charity organizations over the course of the year to help support and give back to Bay Area communities. Through their work, they were inspired to put on…

AN UNBELAVABLE NIGHT – 


An art auction hosted by the Violet Band to support Lava Mae, a nonprofit in the city that turns retired muni buses into mobile shower stations.

For information and tickets, you can see more here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/an-unbelavable-night-tickets-25326685799

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Welcome to An Unbelavable Night! 

The High School students at SF Brightworks, in collaboration with Lava Mae, present an Unbelavable Night: an art auction to help benefit San Francisco’s homeless population. 

Lava Mae is a nonprofit working to redesign decommissioned SF MUNI buses into state-of-the-art sanitation and shower stations for those without access to these resources. Brightworks partnered with Lava Mae earlier this year to help support their volunteer efforts, and together we want to give back to the city. 

Our Unbelavable Night will be held at the new Brightworks campus extension at 1920 Bryant St. 

Join us for a night of drinks, snacks, and music while viewing and bidding on exquisite student and professional art pieces from around the Bay Area. All proceeds from the silent auction and event will go to supporting Lava Mae’s mission to bring cleanliness and dignity to the people of San Francisco. 

Tickets are available by donation. Donations are also accepted the night of. 


See you there! 

Upper School Sex Ed

Last week, the upper school spent the entire week on a comprehensive sex ed curriculum. We made up the curriculum, of course, but it hit the following key points:

– what happens to bodies?

– what is sex?

– what is gender?

– what is consent?

– what goes on in puberty and after? why?

– how to be healthy and safe

 

The first couple of days, we split the kids into unique groups. Phillip and Simons worked with half of them on understanding sex, gender, sexuality, and components of those things regarding mental and emotional levels. Willow and I took the kids and talked about biological changes and expectations in bodies and health regarding these changes.

On Wednesday and Thursday, we broke up into girls and boys Q&A sessions. On Wednesday, the girls got together with the female collaborators and boys with boys. On Thursday, we switched! So girls went with the male collaborators and boys with the females.

The questions were so thoughtful and helpful. It was a really wonderful week.

If interested, you can check out the sex q&a document for the upper school here. 

It was one of my favorite weeks teaching, to be sure.

Violet Band: Robotics Update

The Violet Band has been deep in their robotics courses. We’re studying how robots are ways to think and learn more about humans and human brains.

We started by understanding the difference between fearful and aggressive motions – or when sensors are programmed to move away from light or to move toward light. Having slight differences in the programming changes the way a baby bot moves dramatically.

We advanced to learning about how our brain connects with nerves and sensors in our own bodies, and how to use that information to create signals and responses in robots.

On Thursday last week, they started creating their own baby bots.

Some of the kids are choosing to do robotics projects for their choice projects! Stay tuned…