sharing skills

Another fantastic day of Expression, filled with collaboration and helping each other work through project roadblocks and sharing knowledge in areas of strength.

Audrey’s great-great-great grandmother created a lace pattern book 120 years ago when she was a teenager, and Audrey brought it in to share with the Ssalson Raptors. She explained the history in this video:


The boat builders spent the morning working with clay to see what kind of design would best float on water. They worked on several different designs, and Logan was particularly tenacious in pursuing the idea of an air sac flotation device.


Despite many failed attempts, he kept at it, and this interest sparked a conversation about the occurrences of air sac design in the natural world. Aidan was quick to point out that fish control their buoyancy with these same kinds of air bladders. Ben was the first to discover that making tall sides – or “gates,” as he called them – around the side of the “boat” kept it afloat.


The first prototypes sank quickly, so the boys started timing the buoyancy of their boat constructions.


After the designs became more sophisticated, they dubbed their most buoyant design a “forever boat” ¬†and tested it to see how many pennies versus how many ounces of volume it could hold.


They practiced reporting their findings on a chart in the space.


Theo and I continued work on his self-inspired muffin making project. Yesterday, we talked about the recipe that he remembered and determined the differences between baking soda and baking powder. We talked about what buttermilk tasted like and what kinds of proportions bakers used to create the right consistencies in baked goods. Today, we honed in on making prototype muffins from the recipe we worked on and scaled down the amount of ingredients.


Tomorrow, we’ll figure out the science of why the center of Theo’s prototype muffins exploded through the middle after they baked!


We thanked our volunteer electrician Tim Falconer for wiring the kitchen today by inviting him to Kristie’s hot lunch, a fitting thanks for the one who made it possible for hot lunch to be made in the space in the first place! The collaborators set some new traditions around the community hot lunch: waiting to eat until everyone has sat down, setting the table and cleaning up after, and sitting together during the whole meal to enjoy the community building that happens over food.


Natasha Mei used the quilt-making skills she learned yesterday from our quilting expert to do a quick explanation for the Flying Fish about what a quilt is and how you make one. Check out this video:

The Flying Fish worked together and took turns using the sewing machine and cutting out squares for their patterned quilt.




The stop-motion crew continued to work out the software for their animation project and created a more formalized storyboard for their mini-movie. Mark came in to help guide their process, and Anthony was back (hooray!) from getting surgery and was able to jump in with them for a time too.




Connor and Henry worked on their interactive comic project, with the concept of prototyping a high priority for their work process.



A sweet moment from the park.


Roland explained the origins of his found objects and showed off some of his work.



As a last note after a long Thursday, I just want to thank everyone who reads this blog and supports this school, these ideas, the families, our staff, and the students at Brightworks. Your readership and encouragement for us as a community is overwhelming. Sometimes it’s hard for me to get to the blog after a busy day and a commute, but knowing that there are people out in the world – including our own Audrey, who, according to her mom, won’t go to bed before reading the day’s post (meaning I should try harder to get them done before her bedtime!) – who read with dedication and joy keeps me dedicated to ending my days with this review in pictures of the learning and growing that the kids do each day inside and outside the walls of the school. Goodnight!

testing projects

The prototyping continued today with experiments in water for boats, using embroidery thread for quilting, testing ingredients in the kitchen, using stop-motion software, and felting. The kids are making huge strides in learning how to work in groups where everyone has their own ideas about the project and they have to compromise to make an even stronger project.

This morning, Ree showed some of the kids how she makes her own yarn on the spinning wheel.


Connor contemplated the joint on his design for a hand and worked with Henry to compromise on a project that combines their love of comics and gadgets.


Isaac, Ben, and Zada made progress in their best and worst food recipes.



Coke, Kaia, and Evan worked on the story for the stop motion animation movie.


Clementine, Ben, and Aidan experimented with which kinds of material hold water best.


Ben and Aidan played with soap boats.


Theo worked on a popcorn experiment: he predicted that it would take 2 minutes to pop, but we found that the actual time was 2 minutes 23 seconds.


Clementine, Norabelle, Lola, and Natasha Mei used paper and thread to make ornaments.



Stop motion practice.


Sofia, Audrey, and Bruno Kai worked on their felted nature scene.


Roland continued to absorb the kids in his art throughout the day.


At the end of the day, we all gathered together so we could see the short stop motion films that Evan, Kaia, and Coke prototyped.


Everyone worked so hard today! It was another one of those amazing days where the buzz in the school was one of intense concentration and work. Doesn’t get better than that!


Although Expression officially began last week, we only had two days of school last week and today marked the start of beginning Expression projects. The kids are working in groups of three (and sometimes four) on By Hand-related projects, from quilt-making to stop-motion videos.

Hard at work prepping for the prosthetic hand.


Learning about the sewing machine.



Our artist-in-residence for the week, Roland Blandy, explained his found object artwork and showed the kids his process.




Exploring the principles of water in preparation for building a boat by hand.


Aidan made a discovery today.