Week of Sewing & Typing

What a wonderful week of pattern drafting and sewing exploration, interwoven with NaNoWriMo storytelling.

On Monday, we finalized our cloth math and visited Fabric Outlet to purchase materials for our Cloth as Shelter project.

Tuesday, Teal invited us to come to Maxfield’s Cafe to take part in the Shut Up and Write event.


Throughout both Wednesday and Thursday we dove into an introduction to…SOAP! With Science Expert Ricky. Discovering how soap is made and how the properties of soap wash our clothes.


Thursday afternoon, Claire and Evan of Patagonia’s Worn Wear Team dropped by to chat about what they do to care for the lifecycle of our clothing.  Afterwards, they gave Violet & Amber bands inside scoops on how to connect their pattern pieces to sew up their garments.  We’re so thankful for all of your assistance Claire and Evan!

Violet Band’s Exciting Week

This week we transitioned back into the classroom, after last week’s epic adventures.  

On Monday, the Violetiers gave presentations on Cloth Items that were listed on our packing lists from the Angel Island trip.  They shared historical, contemporary and personal origin stories through powerpoint presentations that were shown to the band.  We found out what the first sleeping bags looked like, the origin of cargo pants, how leather is made, all about a new fiber called Cupro, Gap’s sweatshops, and a personal history of a backpacked named George.    

 

Also on Monday, Violet and Amber explored a reverse engineering exercise on objects around Brightworks.  Groups of two or three sketched the object, deconstructed it, annotated all of it’s parts, and reconstructed the object to think about how parts work together to make a whole.  

 

 

Then on Tuesday things got spooky….

 

When Wednesday came around, the Violetiers explored Materials Science with our local expert Rich, conducting stress tests to explore tensile strength in fibers. Check out this video of the band’s reaction when a fiber hit it’s breaking point!

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Wednesday was the FIRST day of the famous…… NANOWRIMO!  
Yes, that’s right, the Nation Novel Writing Month has begun! Violetiers jumped in, and began their stories and  setting their word-goals.

 

Thursday we discovered the ways that Fashion Designers use math by learning about pattern drafting and calculating how many square feet of fabric our own garments use.  We also did the math to plan how many yards we would have to buy in order to recreate our clothing.  

On Friday, as an overview, Violet Band took a small Week Quiz to remind ourselves what we learned this week.
In the afternoon, we perfected our pattern math, determined how many yards of fabric we need to make our wearable shelter, and drafted technical drawings to show our intended project.  

What a wonderful week it has been!

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

As the Amber and Violet bands continue to look at value, we are exploring the ways that value is assigned.  How do we assign value? Does something have value if it is free?

We recently discovered a produce stand in our neighborhood that offers free produce once a week.  We were curious to find out how and why this is being offered.  We found out that this produce is harvested from Alemany Farm, and made plans to volunteer our time to help harvest.  Before going to the farm we decided to do a cost analysis of what it would take to harvest produce, anything from veggies to vines.

students scouting prices for tools at Lowe’s

Amber and Violet Band discovered that the average cost of harvesting tools, like shovels and trowels, was approximately twenty to thirty dollars.  How might we design our own unique and low-cost tools for harvesting food using found objects from SCRAP (our neighborhood creative reuse center)?

Norabelle and Trudy explore SCRAP for material potential

The bands worked in small groups of three to design their tools.  The groups had thirty minutes and three dollars to source materials for their unique designs.

What came about were tools that cannot be found in a regular hardware store.  Instead of having to buy many tools, students designed multifunctional tools like an umbrella to shield you from the sun while watering your plants; a potato scooper that also stores while you scoop; a grasping device to collect nuts, made from straws and string; and a giraffe-like structure to pick and toss fruits out of reach.

Selina sharpens her potato digger

Selina displays her group’s potato scooper

This project helped us to think critically about the cost behind this free produce. We hope to volunteer our time with Alemany Farm throughout the year as we continue to build connections across coin, cloth and city.

 

The journey to Angel Island

The week before spring break took us on a journey to Angel Island and through the lives of the Chinese immigrants of the late 1800s and early 1900s. On Monday, the Teal and Violet bands studied historical documents pertaining to the Chinese living in San Francisco’s Chinatown and the rest of the US, such as the Cubic Air Ordinance and the Chinese Exclusion Act. We also examined a number of historical photographs of Chinatown, observing the traditional clothing and hairstyles, as well as the lack of women. Exploring these documents and photos, the two bands began to piece together what it was like to be a Chinese immigrant at this time and all the various ways in which the white government was working to make their lives increasingly difficult in hopes of driving them out of San Francisco and the United States altogether.

Using historical documents and photos, the Teal and Violet Bands uncovered the history of the Chinese immigrants in San Francisco.

To continue building our math skills needed to calculate density, we took an afternoon to review long division with decimals in the quotient (that’s the answer to a division problem for those that it’s been too long to remember.) It’s entertaining to see how much everyone dreads long division and worksheets until that moment when it all clicks and they can’t wait to solve the next problem. That feeling of success and accomplishment is pretty amazing.

Sometimes a worksheet is necessary.

After finishing The Dragon’s Child, we walked through the story of Gim Yep. Written very much like a diary of sorts, we recalled the people, places, and events he wrote of, along with the emotions he experienced throughout. This conversation built perspective around his life and experiences. It allowed the bands to put themselves in Gim’s shoes and the shoes of others he encountered. It began to lay the foundation for the historical diaries they are currently working on.

Talking through the events, emotions, and characters of The Dragon’s Child.

On Thursday, we took the ferry to Angel Island to visit the Immigration Station. It was incredibly powerful to see the detention barracks in person after reading about the experiences of the immigrants in The Dragon’s Child and in the historical documents. We saw firsthand the tight quarters they were forced to stay in, the small outdoor spaces they were allowed to walk in once a week, and the stories carved in the walls in the form of poetry. Many observations were made about the number of people forced to sleep in one room and the poor quality of the bedding they were supplied with. Being in the space created a real sense of empathy and perspective, and started a number of conversations around the historical diaries they were beginning to plan. It is a big leap for them to put themselves so solidly in someone else’s shoes, but it is something they are ready to challenge themselves to do.

Seeing the bunks and the belongs in the detention barracks really began to put the immigrants’ experiences into perspective.

The Angel Island Immigration Station detention barracks and dock.

The stories of the immigrants are right there on the walls in poetry.

 

Sailing, Squid, and Monterey Bay

The Teal and Violet Bands have been sailing full steam ahead (wow, the number of water-related puns are unbelievable) these past two weeks. We have dedicated ourselves to studying sailing and beginning to explore marine biology.

In preparation for our sailing trip on the Bay, we spent a day with the crew at The San Francisco Sailing Club. They taught use how to tie a number of important sailor’s knots, including the bowline and figure eight. By the end of the lesson, there were a number of the kids tying the bowline with their eyes closed or even behind their backs.

A lesson on knots and sailing from the crew at The San Francisco Sailing Club.

Learning to tie bowline knots.

They explored the parts of a sailboat and the number of different sailboats there are, based on the number of masts, placement of masts, and sails. Since sailboats rely on the wind to move them forward, it is important to understand the placement of the sails in relation to the wind and the intended direction of the boat. To learn this, the crew taught the bands about points of sail.

As a sailboat relies on wind, a sailor most know the points of sail.

Following our field trip to the sailing club, the bands worked in groups to expand their understanding of the points of sail. Each group was tasked with making a simple 3D interactive model, made mainly out of cardboard, that would allow the user to position both the boat and sails depending on the wind and intended direction of the boat. It’s pretty incredible to figure out how you can use the wind to sail almost into it, but they’ll tell you, not directly, we don’t want flags for sails.

Creating models to teach the points of sail.

Points of sail models act as interactive teaching tools.

To begin our exploration into marine biology and in preparation for our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we took a dive (yet another water pun) into the lives of those of the phylum Mollusca, specifically squid. We explored what traits all mollusks share and explored the main classes of mollusks before focusing on the anatomy of squid. We discussed adaptations (chromatophores – skin coloring) and methods of movement (jet propulsion using a siphon.)

Exploring the phylum Mollusca, specifically squid.

Feeling a bit creative, the Teal and Violet bands painted their own giant squid. Hopefully soon, we’ll have an entire sea of creatures swimming over the dining room.

Fingerpainting our own squid.

We spent Monday morning getting our hands dirty (and a bit stinky) dissecting squid. We explored the exterior and interior anatomy, locating a number of parts including the gills, beak, gonad (yup, we could differentiate the females and the males,) ink sac and pen. It was pretty incredible to dissect the eyes as well, locating and removing the spherical lens. Squid dissections are pretty exciting because they also end with a delicious treat, fried calamari. The entire school was excited to enjoy it with us.

Exploring the interior anatomy of squid.

Bonus treat from squid dissection: fried calamari.

On Tuesday, we journeyed down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for a lesson on the adaptations of a number of invertebrates that live amongst the waves. They looked at how the sand star and urchin have adapted to protect themselves in coastal areas, regularly beaten by waves, using small suction feet. They also explored how organisms such as sand crabs and anemones use the movement of the waves to their benefit of acquiring food. After our class, we got to take in all the incredible exhibits at the aquarium. Make sure to read to the bottom for a view of my favorite.

Exploring the adaptations of the sea life that live and thrive among the waves.

On Thursday, we got out on the water with the San Francisco Sailing Company. We all piled onto the 28′ Santa Maria and set sail for the Golden Gate (unfortunately, the fog kept us from making it all the way to the bridge.) As we navigated the waters, the crew would regularly quiz the bands on our point of sail. It was truly impressive how many of them really understood the concept. During our trip, we came across a square sail replica tall ship, rode the quake of a number of larger boats, and traveled under the Bay Bridge.

Sailing with the San Francisco Sailing Company.

And I shall leave you with the reason I love visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium…the jellyfish.

 

Teal Band Launches into the By Sea Arc

The Teal Band launched right into The Movement of Things By Sea Arc this week. We began the week with a mind map of where the exploration phase of this arc will take us. Our large topics of study will include Immigration Stories, especially those who came through Angel Island in the first half of the 1900s, Marine Biology and Ecology, Density and Buoyancy (I expect they will all be able to spell buoyancy by the end of the arc,) Sailing, and  Sailing Cultures. 

Teal Band’s By Sea Mind Map of the Arc

We began reading The Dragon’s Child by local author Laurence Yep. The story is a fictionalized biography of Yep’s grandfather’s and father’s emigration from China to the United States via Angel Island when his father was only nine years old. Through this story and the stories of many others who came through Angel Island on their journey to America, the Teal Band (along with the Violet Band) will build empathy and understanding of their immigration experiences. In a couple of weeks, we will visit the Angel Island Immigration Station with the Violet Band, where these people were detained for weeks, months or even years at a time before being allowed into the country, and write our own historical diaries from the experiences we’ve read and heard stories of.

Reading Laurence Yep’s The Dragon’s Child

Much of our exploration will be done alongside the Violet Band this arc and we launched that partnership with an exploration into the relationships of mass, volume and density. Working together in teams, they found the mass of five different items, ceramic tiles, steel nuts, pvc pipes, wood and water, as well as their volumes using displacement. After finding and recording this data, they graphed the volume and mass (whoops! didn’t get a picture of the finished graph,) discovering they found the density of each item. They concluded that those objects that float had a density lower than water and therefore a slope less than that of water (which they found to have a 1:1 ratio of mass:volume.) This discovery allowed them to hypothesize where other objects and liquids, such as oil, would fit on our graph.

Teal and Violet worked together to explore the relationships of mass, volume and density.

After reading about the immigration tests required of the Chinese and Japanese looking to enter America through Angel Island, the Teal Band asked to be tested for entrance into the band space. They took time to interview one another, asking questions about siblings, favorite colors, and favorite animals. They also took note of the bandspace, particularly the number of specific objects in the space. When given the test on Wednesday morning, even our visitor looking to join us at Brightworks next year wanted in it.

Question: Would you have been able to remember exactly what your teacher was wearing the previous day when you were eleven years old?

Teal Band interviewing one another and studying up for their Teal Band Immigration Test.

On Thursday, the Teal Band took their exploration to Ocean Beach. We talked about how incredibly fortunate we are to live so close to this amazing body of water. We brainstormed data we could collect over the day, such as types of water vessels seen, times they were spotted and if they were headed inbound or outbound from the Golden Gate. We also took time to listen to the stories of those that crossed that vast ocean on boats, looking to start a new life on “Gold Mountain,” aka America.

Taking in the great Pacific Ocean which we learned from Gever covers almost half the planet.

Bonding at Ocean Beach as they listened to immigrant stories and The Dragon’s Child

As always, the Teal Band had to build a fire and have a fire naming ceremony. Thanks to Freddie’s bacon fat fire starters, the fire was named Porky. After story time and fire chants, the Teal Band took a walk down the beach where they found another body of water up on the beach. They wondered if it has always been there or was a result of the recent rains. They also wondered about how deep it is. Luckily, they stayed dry and no one found out the answer to that question.

We wrapped up the week with a day on the field. We had been explicit all week about the importance of kindness, both towards others and yourself. Friday morning, we joined Jay, Nathan and Evan on the field to play a few team building games. They had to work together to strategize and support one another in order to be successful. Some Teal Banders found their voices as leaders, while others were happy to sit back some and support the team. It was wonderful to hear them cheer one another on and listen to everyone’s ideas.

As a part of “Kindness Week,” Teal Band played a few games out on the field to build on teamwork.

Just a heads up! We have a number of exciting field trips ahead of this month to truly explore The Movement of Things By Sea.

We have a busy month of field trips ahead of us.

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…