Recycled Art

recycled-art-city-smallOn Friday, we hosted a group of new principals and visitors from the Central Office. They came to observe our Magnet program and our Comet Clusters – our monthly enrichment classes for 4th and 5th grades. As they entered the learning commons, they saw three groups. The first group was finishing the beaded earrings they started last month, the second group was dismantling equipment for our recycled techno-jewelry projects, and the final group was creating pins from the motherboards from dissected Promethean Activslates.

We layered the plastic boards from the slates with glass slides and decorative paper, held together with a bezel of brightly colored duck tape. We discussed how many jewelry designers like to make their pieces as interesting on the back  as the front. They either continue the story of the piece, make a little joke, or some secret design for the delight of the wearer. The students get a great satisfaction in seeing how much they can salvage from the equipment and how much waste they can keep out of the landfill. They are getting competitive to see who can come up with the most ideas for a piece. I am excited to see what they design as our year goes on. There is so much enthusiasm that we have to stop periodically and discuss safety – we are working with metal and tools – and this is the first time some of the students have had this experience. One might carelessly toss a piece of metal in the “keeper” box and it might miss and hit someone. I stress safety and respect for the tools and each other.

Our visitors were enthusiastic in their conversations with the students and the children were excited to share what they were learning. As they were taking apart one of the listening stations, they discovered that speakers contain magnets:

 

They decided to pose the question, “Why do audio speakers need magnets?” on the morning announcements during the Question of the Day segment.My principal said the visitors were impressed with our program and their visits with all the enrichment groups. Someone asked her who was teaching the jewelry class and she told him it is the librarian. It’s nice to break stereotypes and show the depth and breadth of learning that goes on in the library or learning commons today.

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I am challenged to stay one step ahead of the children in this group, to create meaningful learning experiences, teach them useful making skills, and design projects that can be completed in the allotted time. At the same time, the challenge has stretched my own jewelry design muscles. In trying to come up with some ideas for uses of these pieces, I created these earrings from the speaker and motherboard of a dead LeapPad Explorer. While I soldered the jump rings to the pieces, we use reamers and awls to put holes in pieces to join them to beads or earring hooks. We are thinking about interesting ways to connect sections of power cord together to make bracelets. The industrial look of these components are making them attractive to the boys, who want to make accessories for themselves. I still haven’t come up with an idea to help Ryan, who wants to make a bracelet that will control a robot. Stay tuned…

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