The gates of Wonka’s factory are now closed, but our 6th-8th grade cast and crew members are still “unpacking” a wonderful experience after our Musical Theatre Project unit in Performing Arts concluded last week with two fabulous performances of “Willy Wonka Jr.” As members of a performing ensemble, all students have been learning that it is important to reflect upon their participation and progress in the spring musical. Through written responses, students shared how they felt they grew as a performer (and person) by being on stage together. In addition, students were asked to share their theatrical design projects, which were also a component of the Musical Theatre Project. Students did graphic renderings and some hand-drawn images depicting their own individual set, costume, and prop designs for the show’s specific characters and/or scenes. We are truly proud of the entire cast and crew’s dedication to this exciting project.
Working together in teams, students in grades three through six have all been part of a project to design and build a walk-in camera obscura in the Makerspace.
Children have been exposed to screens throughout their lives and this opportunity to step back in time and reflect on the projected image has been an interesting challenge. Students are so used to seeing images projected that it seems almost obvious to them that light through a hole would produce one. It turns out it is rare to have a projected image occur by simply focusing light through an aperture. The students have eagerly explored the mechanics of how this seemingly magical and simultaneously obvious phenomenon works.
Using their formidable skills with hammers, nails, saws, screws and power drills they designed and built this masterpiece. As always, duct tape, drop clothes, trash bags, paint and staple guns also played a role.
This photo sequence is of 1) the kindergarten class being shown the camera and its aperture, 2) gathering inside for a demonstration and 3) Riley jumping outside in front of the aperture so that his image could be projected on the (then closed) back flap. His classmates were delighted and amazed to see him projected on the back flap!
Their functioning prototype has taught them about light, vision, projections, cameras, and more. We all love this project and look forward to seeing where it goes next … perhaps a larger permanent installation!
With the drumbeat and chant from our kindergarteners, the excitement of performing to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Dog began from the first moment. Students performed songs and chants using their own traditional crafts as props and introductions and background were given by our older students in… Mandarin and English!
Making these crafts gave students the opportunity to learn the Chinese traditions involving food, decorations and the history of this holiday. Very quickly each student knew the character – 福（fú, luck and happiness)and the traditional gesture for wishing a good Chinese New Year with the expression – 恭喜恭喜 ( gōng xǐ gōng xǐ). Students in third and fourth grade were very proud of themselves when they made their 福（fú）character crafts. As students learned in class, when福(fú）is upside down, it means “luck and happiness have arrived.” There are several upside down 福（fú）characters in the first grade students’ crafts, so luck and happiness have just arrived around us at Unquowa. Upper school students also made their own 春联 ( (chūn lián), adding happiness and best wishes to the celebration.
As you are watching this video full of our students’ enthusiasm and talent, we wish you and your family 狗年大吉大利 (gǒu nián dàjí dà lì)…luck and prosperity in the Chinese New Year of the Dog!
Sixth grade continues to explore robotics! To gain a better understanding of how sound waves travel and are measured, we first used an app for measuring the room’s sound in decibels. We then used our robots to see how various different sounds are measured so that we could understand how to program the robots to successfully follow sound commands. Our initial trial run ended in a robo crash, but trial 2 proved successful! We are about to begin our culminating activity in our robotics unit – students will use their new sensor skills to program the robots to tackle a real world problem with automation. We look forward to seeing the results of our hard work!
If you see sixth grade mathematics students hoarding business cards in their lockers it is because they are knee deep in the construction of a Menger Sponge. A giant, 3-dimensional fractal built entirely out of creased business cards, the Menger Sponge is a year-long 6th grade mathematics project that picks up where the 5th grade Rubiks cube curriculum leaves off. Following themes of algorithmic process and requiring generous helpings of patience and persistence, the Menger Sponge continues to show students that there is more to math than crunching numbers. Each final product will consist of 2,400 cards and appear as a massive cube nearly 2 feet in height, width, and depth! Stay tuned to hear more about the development of the project…
Students in Upper School Performing Arts had a very energetic and creative master class in Drama! They read a synopsis of a play, Willy Wonka, and then put on the ENTIRE show in a one minute pantomime. Their creativity in designing their scenes showed that they clearly understood the sequence of the show’s plot and could pick out the most important elements to highlight for the audience. There was lots of laughter and risk taking on stage! What a great success … and terrific practice for our Spring musical!