This is the first year the National Museum of Women in the Arts has run an Advanced Teacher Summer Institute, with an emphasis on incorporating Arts learning into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math lessons (acronym STEAM). All twelve of the teachers who participated had previously completed the basic institute and were up for a greater challenge.
I spent the first day of the institute teaching some of the more complex pop-up structures that involve a lot of trial-and-error problem-solving, dimensional design skills, and sequential model-making. These techniques and processes are used by both scientists and artists in achieving results, and the emphasis in this week-long session was on taking risks and exploring these methods of creating and inventing. Participants had much more time to pursue their own ideas and incorporate them into some sort of final book structure. Hopefully, such unstructured time for play and invention can lead to similar discoveries in the classroom, with art and science melding into product designs and technologies for the future.
After the final class on Friday, I walked over to the National Botanical Garden to see a wonder of nature, the rare giant Titan Arum or “corpse flower,” almost ready to bloom. (Not quite open yet. I’ll be watching it over the weekend). It was a fitting ending to an exciting week of science and art.
One of the highlights of my teaching year is always the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ Summer Institute for D.C. area teachers. I’ve been working with the Institute for several years now, and always enjoy interacting with the teachers, knowing that the information I’m giving them will eventually migrate back into their classrooms.
This year there were about 20 participants in the week-long session, and I did a short lesson on simple cut-and-fold pop-ups along with another lesson on constructing a landscape book (a simplified variation on the tunnel book). The exciting results are documented in the photos.
Working with kids at the National Building Museum’s summer camp this past week, I led a project to construct an entire pop-up community, complete with houses, apartment buildings, schools, grocery stores, libraries, stores, and of course, family and neighbors. Everyone had fun devising their own pop-up people and buildings, while the project also presented an opportunity to discuss nuances of architectural design, city planning, and what defines a “neighborhood.” The summer campers left with their own paper engineered constructions, and more ideas to try at home.
I stayed after the class to see the museum’s new exhibit, House and Home, which also deals with themes of architecture, community, and the history of household objects. If you’re in Washington, D.C., this summer, it’s definitely worth a visit.
My fourteen students in the pop-up class at the 2013 FOBA conference were real troopers. Forest Grove, Oregon, usually has relatively temperate summers, but the last week in June this year was abnormally hot, with temperatures in the mid-nineties. Hailing from Washington, D.C., I’m accustomed to hot, humid weather; but many of my students found the heat draining. Still, they remained engaged and creatively expressive, and managed to make some very cool pop-up projects during the two-day session. Thanks to everyone who contributed to making this conference a huge success!