Friday, December 17, 2010

Mural, Mural On the Wall

A few months ago Ms. Yazbeck, our art teacher, had her fourth grade class go out and sketch some of the Old Colony buildings to be torn down. Then she had them start a mural. Ms. Yazbeck asked the kids to be inspired by their drawings and work to build a neighborhood. "It's all about neighborhood," she said. "It's all about community. This community, past and present and future."

Some of the kids decided to work in groups; others wanted to work on their own. This is what the mural looks like now (don't forget to click on it so you can see it better):

Like the Old Colony renovation, this mural is a work in progress. Right now, there are only a few nods to the future, for example, the building with the blue roof that represents the soon-to-be-built community center topped with solar panels. Also Ms. Yazbeck noticed that there are buildings in this mural but no people. It should be spaces AND faces, she thought. And sidewalks for the people to get around.

We'll have to report back as the fourth grade artists continue to make their civic improvements.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our Kindergarteners Can Write

This is the question Ms. Joyce Smith asked her kindergarteners to think about:

And this is the answer they came up with and wrote themselves:

Kindergarteners writing out a complex sentence, kindergarteners printing so clearly is pretty impressive. So is the way this collectively written sentence came about.

First Ms. Smith helps the kids brainstorm to answer the question. Then the writing process begins.

"Our sentence starts with The. Can anyone tell me its first letter? That's right, it's a T. Would you like to write it on our paper?"

"Big. B-b-b-, what's that letter? Do you want to print the "b" in big?"

"Great, now what's next? B-i-i-i-g."

And this is how it goes. Some children screwing up their courage to write a letter. Some ready to print a whole word. Big pieces of correcting type and reassurance allows mistakes to be redone.

In kindergarten, it takes a village to write a sentence. Or better said, the whole village gets to participate!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thank You, Mr. Architect

Ms. Muenkel's fifth grade class managed to put a lot in their letters to Mr. Szymanski, the architect. They thanked him for his visit, of course, but also told him a little about themselves. Then, came more questions! Here are just a few of the letters that he received in the mail. Remember, you can click on the letters to make them larger and easier to read.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How to Draw a Building: Step One

The vanishing point is an artist's tool to create a sense of three dimensions on a two dimensional surface. In other words, this technique helps artists draw something 3-D on a flat surface like a piece of paper. Painters have been using it for over 1,500 years. Before they used computers, architects used vanishing points to create drawings of their buildings.

Perkins' 5th graders just learned how to use vanishing points in art class with Ms. Yazbeck--drawing a building, its side vanishing in the distance. Here are a few students' first steps toward being an artist or an architect.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Architecture: Information Leads to New Questions

Ms. Harden's fourth grade class returned from the architect's visit with a lot of new information--and a lot of questions. (To learn more about the visit, click here.) They decided to write a bit of each down on paper. In class discussion, they volunteered some of the interesting facts they learned so Ms Harden could write them down.

Then all the students sat at their desks and each wrote some notes about the presention and questions it inspired. Here are some examples of their work. Remember, you can click on them to make the pictures larger.

What Do Architects Do?

What do architects do? Our fourth and fifth graders had a chance to find out when Jay Szymanski came to talk to them. Mr. Szymanski works at The Architectural Team, the company that designed the new buildings for Old Colony.

FYI--Mr. Szymanski has appeared on our blog before. When one of our students asked, "What will our new homes look like?" we started our Ask The Experts column. If you'd like to know what Mr. Szymanshi said then, just click here.

Anyway, this time Mr. Szymanski came in and talked about being an architect. He explained that architects draw up plans for buildings and showed us pages and pages of blueprints for Old Colony. But before architects start designing, they must think about what the buildings will be used for, the size the rooms should be, how to make the building safe, and how to make the people who use it feel happy to live or work there.

Mr. Szymanski showed the kids some of the software he used to help design the buildings. Using a computer made it much easier to make the layouts and change the sizes of rooms so everything fit perfectly. Some kids came up and experimented making their own buildings with different shapes. They could even change the colors of the buildings to ones they liked best.

For the Old Colony project, the architects also had to think about ways to use make the buildings green (energy efficient). Computers helped the architects decide how to place the buildings so the sun would shade them in June and shine on them in winter. When someone asked why this matters, Mr. Szymanski explained that the sun moves across the sky at a different angle depending upon the season. Keeping the buildings in shade in summer means using less air conditioning. Letting the sun shine in helps heat the buildings in winter.

Letting the sun do the work means paying less for other kinds of energy!

The kids learned a lot from this visit. But like any good, new information, it also made them more curious. To find out what they were especially interested in, come back tomorrow when the fourth grade will weigh in with their thoughts.

This is Architect Visit Week on the PerkinsBlog!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Our Science Class has Lots of Energy!

If you are a devoted MichaelJPerkins Blog follower, you might remember that the 4th and 5th graders are studying energy in science this semester. At the beginning of the year, they were asked to write and draw their beginning ideas about what energy is and where it comes from. Christian's response show up above. If you'd like to see more of our students' ideas you can click here and see many others.

Well, time has passed and the kids are now learning about different kinds of energy--and experimenting with it. One project they've done is to explore the questions: How will rubber band energy affect the movement of the little cars they built? And how will twisting the rubber bands more and more affect the movement as well?

To do the experiment accurately, the kids had to set up a system of measuring their results. They made tracks outside in the school yard.

Then they marked the distances along the track.

Next they twisted their rubber band a certain number of times.


Of course, the question was: How far did it go? The kids had to measure the distance and record the results.

Then they had to try twisting the rubber bands more and more and record what happened. They found out that more twists = more energy = more distance. They also learned about two specific kinds of energy. You can read what they wrote about it below.