cow eyes

As part of their study of the eye, the Orange Band did a cow eye dissection to get a first hand look at the parts of an eye and the way it functions like a camera.









The Red Band followed suit on Friday.



the optics hall

As happens so often, the Exploratorium is one of the best resources for the arcs at Brightworks. This week, the Orange and Green bands visited the Optics Hall for a deeper exploration of lenses, optics, and eyes as they think about the mechanics of a camera.

The Orange Band went exploring with a focus on the eye, looking at the exhibits that experimented with dialating pupils, saw the white blood cells flowing through the eye, and over-saturated the cones in their foveae. They also observed a cow eye dissection in preparation for their own!









The Green Band went to the museum with a focus on light. Their explorations led them through the light exhibits as a follow-up to a discussion they had on Tuesday about the electromagnetic spectrum and the questions they asked, like: “What determines different colors?”, “Why don’t we feel color when we can feel other kids of light?”, “How is light made?” and “Why don’t I feel light entering my eye?”





Many of their questions were answered – which, of course, led to more questions. Endless curiosity.

manual, actual film

The Brightworks students have been presented with an incredible opportunity to print their own photographs in a darkroom in Soma, assisted by expert photographer and teacher Victoria. For the next few weeks, each band will be venturing out into the world to take photos with film cameras, then heading to Rayko to see what they were able to capture.

On Monday afternoon, the Indigo Band went for a neighborhood photo safari, and on Tuesday they visited Rayko to do their prints.





Check back for their images and for more film adventures from other bands!

camera evolution

So many good things are humming along at Brightworks! On Monday, the Green Band explored the evolution and development of the camera, beginning with George Eastman and his Kodak camera and continuing to the development of DSLRs. Amanda writes,

“What originally began as a quick timeline and discovery activity quickly evolved into in-depth understanding, research, and expertise on a single iteration of a camera in camera history. We spent the greater part of the morning in pairs to become experts on specific types of cameras.

Ally and Khalia compiled their very own timeline of Polaroids.


Amelia and Oscar started testing whether using one-eye versus two-eyes makes a difference when judging distance (re: stereoscope).


Julian used his knowledge of mirrors to create diagrams of DSLRs.


Audrey and Lucie drafted a list of qualities in digital point-and-shoot cameras.


Frances and Kaia took apart an old Brownie to see how it works.



The Blue and Green Bands have been talking about the Rule of Thirds when taking photographs. Phillip reported, “Several students are interested in the historical implications of photographs and the more current methods of manipulating images digitally. Almost students are interested in taking better photos.” What better way to improve at something than to do a lot of it? Both bands went on an adventure yesterday to Glen Park Canyon to practice their new skills and learn about nature and landscape photography while focusing on taking pictures that emphasize lines.



aidan pic

(photo credit to Aidan)



(photo credit to Frances)

The Orange and Indigo Bands headed out to the Cliff House on Tuesday to see the giant camera obscura out on the edge of the continent. While they were there, they ran into Chris Honeysett, who is a photographer who uses wet plate collodion prints for his photos – one of the earliest forms of photographic development.







The Yellow Band visited Pier 24 on Tuesday. Pier 24 is a museum dedicated solely to photography. Right now they have a couple of exhibits that explore found photographs and the modern way of taking pictures. The kids were immediately drawn to the room filled to the brim with pictures uploaded to Flickr in one day.


(photo credit to Norabelle)


As with every arc, each band approaches the topic with their own flair, modes of inquiry, and topics of study. Since Gever’s official declaration of the Photograph arc last Wednesday, the Brightworks kids have started their exploration of the Photograph through photo safaris, camera obscuras, and studying the contents of a single photo.


The Red Band was invited to investigate what was depicted in a photo that Shawna put up in their bandspace. She writes,

“I taped a “mystery photo” to our easel and provided oil pastels for the children to add onto the picture…. By Friday, all of the white had been filled in with color and shapes. Sadie and Isaac both postulated theories as to what it was. Sadie said it was a giant pillow fight, which she remembered from seeing it before.


“Isaac said it was a crowd of people in a room with a flag pole. He could see the people’s heads. When I asked him what all the white rectangles were, he thought maybe they were white shirts. When I told him what Sadie said, he at first laughed, but then, looking closely, he said, “Yeah, it could be a giant pillow fight!” And he laughed again.


“It was indeed a mass pillow fight, which convened on Valentines Day. I found it in an old San Francisco Magazine spread. I look forward to continuing this game with the children with different photos every week.”

Last week, the Orange Band began constructing a giant camera obscura in the bottom part of their bandspace. Mackenzie writes,

“When the question inevitably arose of how big the hole should be, Quinn ran to his Chromebook and started researching. Bruno, Huxley and Ben joined him the following day watching videos and reading articles about camera obscuras. Quinn discovered that a big hole let in more light while a small hole allowed for greater focus. Because of this we began with a hole the size of a pin.


As you’d imagine it was too small to project an image on the opposite wall, but Lola held a paper up to the hole and discovered that it was indeed projecting an image. This gave the group the gust of excitement and energy they needed to finish the project. While Quinn, Selina, Huxley and I were outside taping cardboard, we could hear the squeals of excitement coming from inside as the image projected on to the wall. This is our first iteration, we still have plenty tinkering to do with the material, size and shape of the hole.”


The Green Band launched into photo safaris and have been snapping like crazy. Amanda was impressed by a conversation they had as a band yesterday:

“Today we began our inquiry by listing all of the reasons to take a photo, and the conversation quickly evolved into jobs that use photographs, ways in which photos affect us, varying levels of importance of a photo. By the end of our conversation, each one of us had pieced together a beautiful reflection to answer, “Are photographs powerful? Why? How?”


“But even this question, in itself, is up to interpretation. A picture of my family, for example, is important to me, but not many others. Versus a picture of, say, the moon landing – something that permeates through the masses, pulling similar emotions or reactions from an entire population. What separates these photos? Just significant events? Strife? Surprise? Survival?”


We are excited to share more of the kids’ photographs as the arc goes on!