When my fifth graders completed their light up robot paintings (View our robots here) earlier this year we concluded that the circuits were fun to add to our art but the way we closed and opened the circuit needed to be fixed. I looked into adding a rocker switch to the circuit so we could have more control over when our circuit is open or closed. I wrote and received an ABC/25 grant for the switches, copper tape, batteries, copper wire, foam board, and model magic clay to try this new idea. See the amazon shopping list below. I made this polar bear in a snow storm as a prototype to get a feel for creating a circuit on the back of a relief sculpture.
Step One: Design
Since we wanted to create a creature we used an app on our iPads called Create a Monster. This app had hundreds of configurations for monsters to choose from. We uploaded our monsters to Artsonia here and used them as a reference for our art.
Step Two: Add the switch
Adding the switch was a big task in itself since I didn't want to handout exacto knives to my third graders. We bore a hole into the foam core and widened it with scissors. We had to be careful not to make the hole too big or damage the foam board as we worked. The placement of the switch had to fit into our design somehow and not be too close to the edge of the board for fear it would rip through when we made the hole. Click to enlarge photos.
Step Three: Build the circuit
Building the circuit took some thinking for my third graders. They each received a diagram for how to create the circuit using a switch. I demonstrated under my document camera and led them step by step. We didn't complete the process in one class period so we bundled up our supplies and art in a gallon size ziplock and resumed the following week. All confusion cleared that second day when they flipped the switch and the light when on. They were then able to help each other and trouble shoot problems together.
Step Four: adding clay
Students used one small package of model magic clay to emphasize parts of their creature's portrait like horns, fangs, eyes, nose, etc. The clay kinda sticks automatically to the board and air dries. If it did come off the next time, they just added glue to it.
Step Five: Paint
Students spent time using color balance and good craftsmanship to paint their creatures. It was challenging to get into all the dips and nooks of the clay. They used paint markers to add texture or design and black to outline at the end. See all our finished art here.
Step Six: Demonstrate
Students used the iPads and iPad stands to film a short clip of them turning on their switch to light up their monsters. View a class movie below.
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Tricia Fuglestad, NBCT 07
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