Where the Garage Meets the Classroom
As Frank R. Wilson so beautifully put it in his preface to The Art of Critical Making, “objects brought to life by a maker… will not only foster confidence and vitality but also sharpen personal identity and add meaning to the experience of consciousness.”
Making things, problem solving and learning-by-doing have been at the heart of Unquowa since our school’s inception in 1917. Our school’s 1500 sq ft makerspace provides us with bigger and better space for activities that involve making, un-making, tinkering and designing. It is the place where the garage meets the classroom, and offers students a chance to bring their ideas to life using materials ranging from wood, metal and fabric to robotic components and 3-D printing.
Posted by Krissy Ponden
Each year the Unquowa gym is transformed into a magnificent art gallery with work displayed from all students in the school. A true retrospective of the year in art, projects range from painting, to ceramic, printmaking, and more. It is a wonderful opportunity to see the scope of work that the students accomplish throughout the year, and the younger students eagerly anticipate their own turn to create some of the beloved traditional projects like the 7th grade Lichtenstein self-portraits, or the 3rd grade clay chickens. Throughout the year students work on developing their artistic skills while learning about different artists, art forms, and art movements. Their best work is then collected and hung in one large-scale exhibit for the whole school community to view and appreciate. This year featured several Gator Garage makerspace collaborations including the 4th graders’ fun handmade lamps, and the 8th graders’ framed branch weavings. We hope to expand the presence of makerspace projects on view in the future as we continue to expose students to unique opportunities and contemporary ideas of what art can be. The art show once again demonstrated the importance that Unquowa places on the arts and the skill and excitement with which our talented students rise to the occasion.
Posted by Krissy Ponden
The eighth graders have been working on an exciting and sophisticated project involving different media and critical thinking skills. Rather than weaving on a flat surface, they have been experimenting with weaving on branches and around corners to create unique framed projects. The students selected branches from Unquowa’s campus and cut and assembled frames in the makerspace to surround them. They had to apply their geometry skills to determine the precise cuts during the planning stage of the project, and then used saws, wood glue, and screws to assemble the frames. Some students chose to paint the wooden components, while others opted to retain the natural look of the materials. Finally, they crafted detailed and intricately patterned weavings that they attached in different ways to their frames and branches. Look for their finished projects on display in next month’s all school art show!
Posted by Katie Brenna
Spanish teachers employ a myriad of activities to help make verb conjugations come to life for their students. Sra. Corvese. Mr. Ross-MacCormack and I recently collaborated to bring to life a new idea to make learning verbs more dynamic and fun for our sixth graders. To start, sixth graders were asked to come up with a theme that spoke to them. Some examples were “cooking,” “my birthday” and “summer.” Once each student had a theme in mind, he/she was then asked to use an online dictionary to create a list of fifteen verbs that fit the respective theme. Continuing to use an online resource, each student then needed to determine which verbs were regular and which ones were irregular by observing patterns. Once the student-generated list was complete, students then used it to create a verb “puzzle” of sorts. We are now in the midst of working in the Tech Lab and in the makerspace to produce our verb puzzles, which will then serve as valuable thematic, conversation-starters for all of our Spanish language learners. Sixth graders are excited to continue exploring how verbs work and through the trials and tribulations of this type of work, they are truly learning why “puzzles” are called “rompecabezas” in Spanish. The verb “romper” means to break and the work “cabezas” means head. At times, this work can really stretch your mind!
Posted by Karen Engelke
As part of our unit on natural resources, 2nd grade worked with Mr. Ross-MacCormack in the makerspace to build shelters. We spent some time in the classroom identifying the natural resources found in our furniture and homes. We then went to the makerspace where we built bricks out of quick drying clay. Once we made a large bounty of bricks we got to work on building some kind of shelter or community building. We created mortar out of glue and sand and used bark, straw and sticks for roofing. Some of us chose to made a school, museum or cafe. It involved lots of creativity and teamwork from all parties involved.
Posted by George Seferidis
The Marshmallow Challenge is our introduction to the design process, laying the groundwork for a future humanities design project. This timed challenge requires small groups to work together to create the tallest, freestanding structure capable of holding a marshmallow on top, using the frailest of materials – 20 pieces of spaghetti, a yard of tape, and yarn.
Groups who were successful did not wait until the last minute to put their marshmallow on the top; rather they endeavored early on to create a working prototype before working through several iterations of design. The concept of iterative design will be essential in their next redesign task. Students are encouraged to integrate form and function in their design thinking to bridge learning in our humanities curriculum.
Posted by Carlene Gordon
Our third graders are busy learning both the concept of multiplication as well as basic facts. Students can more readily develop an understanding of multiplication concepts if they see visual representations of the computation process. Therefore, we recently took to our makerspace to allow our students the opportunity to create multiplication arrays as a visual, concrete representation of multiplication. An array is formed by arranging a set of objects into rows and columns. Each column must contain the same number of objects as the other columns, and each row must have the same number as the other rows. That being said, and as our students demonstrated, an array can be created from most any object. Afterwards, students identified arrays all around us…egg cartons, window panes, classroom cubbies, brick wall, floor/ceiling tiles and much more to identify multiplication in our daily environment.