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 Ms. Fernandez
After studying the Spanish vocabulary needed to discuss and understand the weather, Grades 3 and 4 built their very own weather stations in the Makerspace. The students enjoyed expanding on what they learned in Spanish class by going deeper into the science of weather and designing their own weather stations. Their simple construction materials included paper cups, popsicle sticks, strings of hair and more.
Posted by Faith Barbuto
Continuing our studies of mammals and how they adapt to survive winter, we began to explore the concept of insulation. With Mr. Ross-MacCormack we went outside and looked at several materials that are meant to keep us warm. We touched the items first, examining the different textures and thicknesses. Volunteers were chosen to be wrapped in different materials to see if they helped keep them warm. We compared the items and identified what characteristics they had in common.
One budding engineer remarked, “I was warm except for the part where the hole let the air in!” Air… We felt all the best types of insulation and realized they had air trapped inside! Once we returned to the makerspace we investigated trapping air and realized that the warmth wasn’t coming from the material it was coming from our bodies!
Posted by Carlene Gordon
It was a busy week of Thanksgiving in third grade. The week began by reading two stories about Thanksgiving. The first, Across the Wide Dark Sea was about a young boy’s experiences sailing on the Mayflower with his family. The next story was titled, The First Thanksgiving and depicted the struggles, hardships and ultimate friendships leading up to the first Thanksgiving, which students learned, lasted for three days! Following these stories, our third graders headed to the makerspace to create replicas of the Mayflower. Students carefully crafted these ships to serve as place cards on the tables of our own Unquowa School Thanksgiving Feast. Later in the week, students continued to practice writing three to five paragraph essays describing the things they are most grateful for. Students expressed gratitude for big things such as families, food, friends and school but also seemingly small or frequently overlooked things such as a smile or a cheery hello! In addition, during our mindfulness activity of a gratitude circle, students were able to express their appreciation of these things and many more with each other. Finally, dressed to impress, our students headed down to relish a traditional Thanksgiving feast created by our talented chefs. Students enjoyed coming together with classmates and teachers from across all grades before departing on the extended holiday break. At the tables, students shared handcrafted table place cards, Thanksgiving plans and of course, the delicious food. But most of all, we shared gratitude for our school and all that it offers us.
Posted by Carlene Gordon
Our fourth graders are learning that people use technology to solve problems and make lives easier. The design process involves developing a product or process to solve a problem. As students have been learning, the first step in the design process is to identify a problem. Therefore, students were asked to think about their daily life and find a solution to a problem that they encountered regularly. Students went to work right away discussing the daily life and the pitfalls of a fourth grader. They soon identified many problems and explored possible solutions. Just a few of these solutions to life’s problems included a closet to rotate clothing, a robot with human appearance and intelligence to play with one’s little brother and shoes with lifts to reach things in a top locker. Following the steps in the design process, after selecting a solution, students went to the makerspace to design and construct a prototype. When one design failed, students were required to redesign and solve problems as they arose. Our project concluded with students presenting their prototypes (models) and discussing possible materials and tools that would be required in constructing.
Posted by Cameron Ross-MacCormack
Kindergarten students constructed a strong but flexible zig-zag ring of carefully crafted of hand-cut Pine and Poplar pieces. Each student snugly fitted nine pieces together on their own, and then saw that each assemblage, like each student in the class, came together and made a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
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.