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Three generations of students collaborate on interactive wind sculpture
Three generations of students collaborate on interactive wind sculptureMay 02, 2007Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
Three generations of students — high school students from the Syracuse City School District’s Central Technical Vocational School, mechanical and aerospace engineering seniors in Syracuse University’s L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS) and preschoolers at SU’s Early Education and Child Care Center (EECCC) have been collaborating for months on a common goal — to create a “When the Wind Blows” interactive sculpture for children.
That goal, toward which the Central Tech and EECCC students have been working for two years, is now clearly in sight. The students and collaborating artist Arlene Abend are well on their way to creating a series of three-foot sculptures from metals and other materials, to top a larger sculpture that moves in the wind. The sculpture will be a “sit `n’ spin” design based on an idea developed by students and designed by local sculptor George Rhodes and landscape architect Rusty Keeler. It will be built in an outside play space at EECCC, located on South Campus.
The LCS students have created engineering plans for the sculpture as part of a senior capstone project and will begin ordering the materials shortly. Central Tech welding students will assist with fabricating the sculpture; the construction process is expected to begin in late May. On May 8, the LCS students will give poster presentations of their work to faculty and fellow students as part of their senior capstone. A celebration of artistic and engineering creativity will take place later in the summer, in the form of a public event to be held June 8 from 5:30-8 p.m. at The Warehouse. EECCC and Central Tech students will present their works. Central Tech students have been involved with the project since its inception. They worked with Abend to brainstorm, choose an idea, sketch, make scale drawings and cardboard patterns, and make a working metal model of their idea. They have used metalworking tools to cut, grind, braise, bend and weld birds, flowers, a sun, a robot and other abstract shapes that will respond to the wind. Central Tech horticulture students have also participated in the designing and siting of the sculpture, and they designed an outdoor game for the EECCC play space adjacent to the sculpture site.
Using long term, projected based learning, EECCC preschoolers have been studying and working on many different wire sculptures. They have visited Stone Quarry Art Park in Cazenovia, created wire sculptures of their own bodies in different action poses, and worked with artist Ned Kahn to create a wire project in their outside play space. Students have also experimented with ways to “catch the wind” as part of their science studies.
The project has received grants from the New York State Council on the Arts.
“At EECCC, making learning visible is an important part of our teaching strategy,” says director Joan Supiro. “We want to educate children and families to the wonder and complexity of designing and creating environments for children that work with the natural world.”
Supiro says the project has had the added bonus of bringing together students at different stages of the learning experience for collaboration. “This project spotlights how great the capabilities of the students are and how long-term projects based on big ideas and multiple opportunities for expression allow children to find passion, concentration, satisfaction and a voice.”
The sculpture will be unveiled to the University and local community this fall. For more information, contact EECCC at (315) 443-4482.