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Cardboard Creatures – Phase Three – Design for 3D Printing

“There are 3D people stuck in a 2D world” – Katherine Douglas, Choice-Based Art Education in the Classroom (TAB), (Douglas & Jaquith, 2018)

“…especially in school art classes.” – Mona Lisa Lives Here

I am blessed with a son who participated fully in an entire childhood filled with art making experiences, from extra-curricular classes I offered at our school or other schools after school or workshops I ran during the summer. He willingly explored all mediums, and although he never really claimed to be a good artist, he did some pretty awesome work. He was a LEGO guy early on and could build and construct with pretty much any material. As a matter of fact, one time in middle school, he and a few friends received thirteen break detentions for each of the plastic forks they used to construct a model of the sun from an unwanted apple at lunch, using 3 for the tripod stand and 10 poked in all the way around the middle for the rays.

While I’m not condoning wasting an apple or the plastic forks, I do know this sort of activity fit my son’s nature and interests. I think it’s because of this, the quote above by Katherine Douglas resonated with me at TABweek in the summer of 2017. As a child, my son was a 3D maker in a 2D world. I believe many of my students think in 3D and lack opportunities to exercise that propensity.

In this post I’ll share the recent work of my students who were introduced to 3D modeling a few weeks ago. They had hand-crafted Cardboard Creatures, which were then used to star in stop motion/green screen animation videos. The Cardboard Creatures were also used as models for 3D design. This is the last of the three posts about the Cardboard Creature project. The first post – about Phase One – Making the Cardboard Creatures is here. The second – about the stop motion/green screen videos starring the Cardboard Creatures is here.

It has been six years since I started exploring the artistic creation potential for 3D printing in the classroom. When a grant opportunity (from MakerBot and DonorsChoose) presented itself in November 2013, I jumped in quickly and it was funded within 24 hours. 3D Printing in the art room (outside the engineering lab) was unheard of in 2013. However, I could immediately see its potential in my middle school art room because I had students who were 3D thinkers just like my son.

2013 MiscoeMakerCrew

Initially I formed an after-school group of students (the MiscoeMakerCrew) to learn this new technology with me. Printing was one thing, designing models was something else altogether. When we first started designing for 3D printing, we tried Blender, an open source program for 3D creation, which is amazing, yet too complex for my then fifth and sixth grade MiscoeMakerCrew. These polite, compliant kids worked for an hour in our computer lab to try to create with the program. They were uncharacteristically quiet and by the end of our time that session, I could see they were frustrated and annoyed by the complexities of the program. Then I found 123D design by Autodesk – an app that worked well on the iPads the kids were already using. Unfortunately, after a few years, Autodesk discontinued the app, moving to online platforms such as TinkerCad, which we tried at a time when our WiFi was unreliable, so it wasn’t successful. Meanwhile, Morphi app was being developed by Sophia Georgiou and partners. It is kid-friendly, intuitive, has some pretty great features and we’ve been using Morphi on iPads ever since.

I introduced Morphi to the students this year on the day before Halloween and on Halloween. The skill builder intro project was to create a Jack O’Lantern using the app. Creative constraints and objectives included using primitive forms only, subtracting one form from another, and changing the color of the model. It was a one day, 45 minute activity to familiarize the students with the app. It was a good introductory activity with minimal stress and a focus on exploration rather than mastery. Some of the kids took it pretty far.

Holden P.’s Jack O’lantern with iPhone

Once my students had explored the app and finished their stop motion/green screen videos, it was time to mimic the design of their Cardboard Creature in a 3D model using Morphi. It is important to note that the model should reflect the completed Cardboard Creature, not the original design for it. This is because original designs were modified due to the limitations of working with cardboard. What resulted were primitive 3D forms of cardboard such as rectangular prisms, cubes, spheres, cylinders, and triangular prisms. This coincides perfectly with the primitive forms in Morphi app.

Primitive forms used to model a Cardboard Creature

You may have noticed that the giraffe above is in the company of giraffes. This was the other component of this phase of the project. When students were ready to take a photo of their finished model using the in-app camera, I encouraged them to eliminate the background (transparent like a PNG) and the grid. This way their model could blend into a background of their choice. This was yet another way to mimic the green screen process, but we used layers in Autodesk Sketchbook instead. Yes, another concept introduced through this project!

Brynn D.’s first photo with background

And then she turned the model in Morphi and took another photo of the backs of the models

An aerial view

And using scale and transform controls in Sketchbook

Fantastic job, Brynn! Many students showed tremendous imagination as well in placing their models in natural or supernatural surroundings. I really love every one of them!

Once these models were finished, the big Cardboard Creature project was also complete. Sigh. I hated to see it go. We had spent a month in all on the project, which translates to twelve 50 minute classes taking place every other day. I loved the focus my students brought to each of the three phases of the project, and the familiarity they developed with their Cardboard Creatures through all of the manifestations along the way.

Ella, Kaycie, Jayden, Emme

3D Design and imposed background though layering in Autodesk Sketchbook

Reflection

I think this project scratched the itch of the 3D thinkers in my classes. I also think this project gave the 2D thinkers a chance to look at the world and their potential as artists a little bit differently. Most importantly, this project was open ended enough to include an abundance of imagination and creativity, yet a multitude of skills were confronted and developed. Lastly, this project sustained the attention of nearly 200 11 and 12 year old children for an entire month as they tried new things and added to their toolkits as learners, artists, and makers. Mostly, it was really fun.

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Cardboard Creature Project – Phase Two – Stop Motion/Green Screen

“My filmmaking really began with technology. It began through technology, not through telling stories, because my 8mm movie camera was the way into whatever I decided to do.” – Steven Spielberg

Starting with a quote by Steven Spielberg may seem like a lofty way to begin a post about video making by upper elementary students. To clear that potential misconception, know that this post is about the exploration of video making tools – stop motion and green screen – by novice filmmakers. More than that, it is about the joyful, creative, and willing spirit with which my fifth and sixth grade art students embraced and approached the idea of using their hand-crafted Cardboard Creatures as the stars of short films. Back to Spielberg though, this post is also about using technology. Teaching in a 1:1 device school, where every student has access to an iPad all the time, both at school and at home, compels me to help them understand how to use the technology as yet another vehicle for self expression.

This is the second of three posts about the Cardboard Creatures. You can read about how they were crafted in Phase One here. You can read about how they served as models for 3D Design for 3D Printing here.

Stop Motion Animation

There are many ways art students can create animated videos with iPads. We have been using Stop Motion Studio for years, and although not super fancy, it is intuitive for my students and is also free. The Cardboard Creatures were designed to have mobility as one of the Creative Constraints  – precisely because of the animation process. Stop motion animation requires several continuous frames with the subject in a slightly different position for each frame. As an example for the students, I used a wooden artist’s mannequin and posed it in various positions in front of a green screen. I then dropped it into iMovie In green screen mode (a new option in a recent update of iMovie*) and also added audio.

*iMovie added the option for green screen/blue screen in June this year. Many of my students have access through school to DoInk Green Screen app and used that for their videos, as was my original plan. If not, they used iMovie. Going forward, I would just use iMovie. They will be compelled to add audio with iMovie, too, because it is so easy (and fun).

My example video was certainly enough to get the wheels turning for my fifth and sixth grade art students! In many of my classes I have 25-30 students for which I knew the three green screen painted walls we have at the end of our hallway would not be enough. I also wanted to keep the majority of my students in the classroom so I would be available to help them. With this in mind, I took six large empty boxes from a recent cafeteria delivery and cut off the flaps and ends to make filming booths. I picked up a gallon of Behr #1753 Sparkling Apple latex wall paint ($34 at Home Depot – traditional green screen paint on Amazon was $90):

I did buy some green screen gaffer’s tape from Amazon to use to tape up the seams of the box. I made six of these filming booths.

One day as I glanced over at them just sitting there, it occurred to me I could use the filming booths to alter the reality of the classroom space. Dream imagery came to mind. Indulge me, please…:

Thanks. The filming booths ended up working quite well as students with smaller Cardboard Creatures were able to work right in the classroom at one of our six tables. Fortunately, student groups were finishing their Cardboard Creatures at different times, so they would also start filming at different times.

Because so many groups used the filming booths, just a few groups with larger Cardboard Creatures used the green screen walls in the hallway. I also ordered green screen cloth to drape over large boxes to use as stages for the stop motion work so you wouldn’t see the floor.

Mary wanted me to mention that her outfit is in support of Pink Out Day, a day when we wear pink to increase awareness of breast cancer.

Green Screen

When groups were finished filming their Stop Motion animation, they saved the video to their iPad camera roll. From there it is easy to import it to either Do Ink Green Screen or iMovie. They could then adjust sensitivity of the green screen (Do Ink) or add music or sound effects (iMovie). Sound was not required for the project, so many videos don’t include it. Once edited, the videos were turned in to Google Classroom by one student from each group. Below you can see some of the final projects for this phase. They are fairly primitive and amateurish, but most evoke the playful quality of creating with imagination. You’ll see one student name at the top of each video (a Google Classroom construct), but each represents the work of a group. Here are several:

Tell me, how fun are these? I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Many of these videos represent first experiences with animation and green screen for my students. Remember, even Steven Spielberg had to start somewhere…

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Cardboard Creature Project – Phase One – Build

“The most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children.” – Jim Henson

The photo above is of me and a whole bunch of cardboard on October 8, 2019 as I waited to introduce our Cardboard Creature project to an incoming class. It was all down hill from there!

Here’s how we did it:

I introduced this unit by showing Caine’s Arcade, a film by Nirvan Mullick. I’ve been showing this video to students for years, but this is the first time we’ve followed it up by working with cardboard. And I’m so glad we did!

Students started by responding to a bell ringer prompt in their sketchbooks: Design a figure you could make 3D. This prompt is purposely vague and open-ended, allowing for creativity and active imagination. It also initiates first consideration of thinking in 3D. This was a great opportunity to differentiate between creative drawing and scientific diagrams, although they both require creative thinking. These are a couple of the responses:

After sharing designs with those at their table, students formed groups based on friendship, like-mindedness, and similarity of creature design. I encouraged groups of three, and when necessary due to class size, groups of two or four were formed. During their first group meeting, students compared designs and discussed possibilities for a design that either combined individual drawings or elaborated on one of the drawings.

Together we also looked at the cardboard artwork of artist Justin King:

Cardboard Animals By Justin King

And after a couple of classes as an inspiration boost, we also looked at the work of Monami Ohno:

Cardboard Sculptures By Monami Ohno

I also shared these three attachment attachments with the students through Google Classroom. We went over the various ways to construct 3D forms with cardboard so it becomes a mechanical endeavor, well thought out and conceived for prime support and bonding.

Students then began the design process with one person sketching for each group. I asked students to show me their plan for mobility for the figure and for attachments.

This went very well. Clearly there is no shortage of imagination in the 5/6 art classes! Here is a small galley of some of the group drawings:

The Creative Constraints for this project were:

  1. Attachments must be made with attachment techniques and hot glue
  2. Creatures must be self supporting and have mobility
  3. Finished creature width and depth must fit within the designated box

Checking the size of the creature against the designated “size checker” box

Groups were able to start building as soon as their design was approved by me. We were using Canary Cardboard cutters and scissors, glue guns, yarn, and brass fasteners. No tape. We discovered along the way that fishing line was helpful for Phase Two: Stop Motion/Green Screen (shared in a separate post). A couple of groups also used sand for ballast on top-heavy models.

The cutters were arranged in little “toolkits” with 4 cutters and one scissor in each, enough for one toolkit at each table. At the end of every class students returned the tool kits and the glue guns (also one per table) to the supply table. I took a quick inventory to make sure they were all accounted for as I didn’t want these tools to leave the classroom.

I was thorough in going over the potential hazards of the cutters and glue guns. Early on there were five or six minor cuts and about the same amount of minor burns, for which band-aids and/or cold water soothed all. Fortunately, nothing was serious, and the accidents tapered to zero after a couple of classes. Experience and confidence seemed to build resistance to injury.

Here are some photos of the cardboard artists at work:


Checking the size of the cardboard part against the designated “size checker” box

Dedication!

And a video of one group explaining their project as they put it (her) together:

I teach nine different classes over two days. Classes are 50 minutes long. It took most groups between five and six classes to make their cardboard creature. As groups finished, they started Phase Two – Stop Motion/Green Screen, for which I had demonstrated the apps and process around the fourth class as some groups neared completion of their build. By October 30, most groups were finished building and we took a break from building/filming so I could show them Phase Three – 3D Design (shared in a separate post); how to design for 3D using Morphi App. I was also concerned about working with hot glue and cutters while the kids were wearing costumes on Halloween; I know my own costume was too “drapey” to be messing around with hot or sharp things.

Notorious Ruth Bader Gentili with the cardboard creatures

As the Cardboard Creatures were completed, they graciously posed for photos before being herded to the school lobby for display there. As two students and I were finishing up the display near the end of the block, students were pouring into the hallways for lunch and recess. We were mobbed with excited kids looking for their creatures.

Above photo credit: Jennifer Mannion

And now (drum roll, please) here are some of the Cardboard Creatures:

Reflection:

If I could bottle the energy the kids brought into the classroom for this project, I would apply it to some of the traditional art projects that cause some kids to check out, disengage, and mutter, “I’m not good at art”. Everyone was at home with this project. It was so different and challenging we all knew and accepted failure as part of the process. The class atmosphere was truly one of discovery, exploration, and true collaboration.

And if I had a nickel for every time a student asked, “Can we just stay here and do this all day?” I could pay for all of the glue sticks we consumed. Kidding not kidding. We went through about 200 glue sticks, necessitating a next day Amazon order in the middle of things to keep us in business. That’s completely my fault. Working groups can get away from you quickly. While you’re helping one group sort out structural issues, another group is using the glue to fasten one edge to another, which intuitively seems like it would work, but doesn’t. Cardboard is heavy and one bead of glue along the edge doesn’t support the weight. Mini-demos about this popped up in the middle of classes as I saw the mountains of glue on certain pieces. What’s the alternative? Tabs, flanges, and Lacing:

Much has been written about the important role of play in child development. This felt like play for all of us. As the teacher, my job was to facilitate the project and interactions. I would intervene with building help or smoothing group dynamics as needed. With group work, certain students struggle to maintain the balance between leading and being led. That’s where the teacher has a role in defining possible tasks within a project and helping groups to either separate out a little to make sure all are busy with defined jobs or to go all-in on one task. For instance, early on, EVERYONE wants to use the glue gun, and the teacher helps ensure that everyone has a chance.

Over the past few years I implemented group projects in November. The past few years, my fifth grade classes were engaged in the WeRMakers Product Design unit and the sixth grade classes incorporated 3D printing in the Game Makers unit. Typically we would have accomplished the important first tasks of creating a portfolio folder, making sketchbooks with covers that are also artworks, learning to photograph art and upload it to Google Classroom and our online gallery, Artsonia, as well as completing at least one additional independent art lesson before moving on to group work.

This year I shook it up a little, going from portfolio folder to sketchbook with cover artwork right into the Cardboard Creature group project. One reason is because at the end of the last school year, when I took inventory of my supplies, I also took a look at the materials I had collected through the years. I had an abundance of cardboard, including large sheets from the packaging of white boards throughout the school. As the project took shape in my mind, I reached out to my colleagues for more. It turns out Gary, a custodian at my school, is the keeper of the boxes from food deliveries, and there is a pretty good assortment in a space right outside the school kitchen. He kept us in cardboard throughout the project. Thank you, Gary!

I liked this scheduling shift a lot, as it tuns out. The group work enabled classes to get to know each other more quickly. This is especially important for my fifth grade students who come together from two different schools when they get to middle school. It also helped them to know me as a teacher earlier in the year – to learn that I value originality over sameness, exploration over duplication, and that when I get their attention, I say what I have to share and then get out of the way. This is a nice foundation to have established as we go forward into the school year.

Lastly, for me personally, I learned a lot about constructing with cardboard. I learned a lot about my students as individuals: the natural leaders, the forceful, the followers, the easy-going, the always helpful, the determined, the rays of sunshine. I enjoyed being in the art space with students, all 200 of them. No  school day or cardboard creature was the same. It was fun.

Holden waves “hello”

Brandon’s Mini-Mona Lisa

My demo for how to make a rounded form ends up as a hat/helmet, of course…

And it was magical. When I would lock up at the end of the day, I’d glance back thinking I might catch all these little creatures coming to life for the night. And when I opened the door in the morning and threw the lights on, I could feel a shift in energy, as if they had suddenly become still…the secret life of Cardboard Creatures.

 

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Out Of This World Sketchbook Covers

“To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.”Stephen Hawking

As I curate the student artwork for this post, I just can’t stop downloading pieces from Artsonia because they are ALL OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!

We just wrapped up this project and most students have had a chance to upload their work to Artsonia where they are on display in this gallery: https://www.artsonia.com/museum/gallery.asp?project=1822853

Miriam Harrati

These are the covers for the sketchbooks we made two weeks ago. Space scenes are first sketched out with white colored pencil on purple tag stock after the book is made. Students opened the books flat on the tables and treated both outside front and back covers as one panel or scene. Color was added with oil pastel and blended with blending stomps.

Kylie Connolly

This was a super engaging project for all due to (I think) the tactile quality of the oil pastels, the freedom of imagery, and the huge success of overlaying one color on another as it hides a lot of missteps.

Jack Oleksyk

Students were given a few resource sheets of planets, meteors, comets, rockets, and constellations. From there they were encouraged to create their own unique space scenes. Martians welcome.

Sean Lewinsky

This was a great opportunity to talk about the difference between an artistic rendering and a scientific diagram. Come to find out, some sixth grade science classes had made scientific diagrams of the solar system recently, and this project helped to foster further connections with the topic of space.

John Nakamura

This project also generated discussion about perspective. Rather than draw themselves surrounded by space, students were asked to imagine themselves being immersed in space where every time they turned their heads, all they saw were planetary and other objects, not their own bodies.

Grace Sabo

The relaxed yet eager work sessions generated a lot of conversation (no surprise – Area 51 was a frequent topic 😊) contrasting with periods of total silence except for the music air-playing to the speaker (I’ve been stuck on Jack Johnson in the classroom lately).

Ella Martin

As students finished, they used Autodesk Sketchbook on iPads to create digital space scenes. Those will be posted in a few days.

Matthew Haley

Meanwhile, enjoy these vibrant space scenes! I hope you love them as much as I do!

Greyson Michael

Tyler Loo

Lia Romano

Jacob Poirier

Irelyn Bradley

Kyle Keaveney

Justin Ferenczy

Aiden Fayer

Caleb Keyes

Taylor Ferlo

Hailey Pierce

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Couldn’t Make It To Open House 2019?

Couldn’t make it Open House this week? No worries at all!

This is a super busy time of year and one can’t do everything! It was a pleasure to see so many parents and guardians Tuesday night and I appreciate your stopping by to say “hi” and check out the art room. If you weren’t able to make it, please know you can stop by any time. Here is what the room looks like in a 360 Panorama (click on the photo to see the room): 

Open House visitors enjoyed the following video, which shows highlights of last year’s 5/6 Miscoe Hill Art Program and should give you some idea of what to expect this year (click on the photo to see the video):

Also available was the back-to-school letter containing a breakdown of grading criteria and my contact information. Here is a link to the letter: Welcome to 2019.20 color

Speaking of contact information, I have emailed every address I had for my students’ parents and guardians last week. If you did not receive an email from me, please let me know at agentili@mursd.org 

It was a pleasure to meet some of you this week and I look forward to meeting the rest of you one day soon, possibly at conferences or at the Art Show in the spring.

Sincerely,

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International Dot Day 2019

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In the Miscoe Hill 5/6Art room we have had a blast creating dots and watching them come to life using the Quiver app on iPads. Why create dots? Because of the book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. Here is a narrated video of the story:

We colored in templates made by Quiver and then used the app to view the dots we have made. Quiver uses Augmented Reality to transform the dots into dynamic, moving dots. You can download the Quiver app to any mobile device, print the template, and view the dots with augmented reality. Here is a video how it works (please substitute “Quiver” for “Colar” because the app has changed hands since I made this video:

As students view their dots with augmented reality, they’ve been capturing them in photos and videos on the iPads. Here is a compilation of their artwork:

And individual students’ work is posted on Artsonia here.

Nice work, right? The video will be posted on the International Dot Day wall and on Twitter with the hashtag #DotDay19. Over sixteen million Dot makers will participate in International Dot Day this year!

To see a heart-warming story about one a former student and the impact Dot Day had on her, please follow this link: Shea on Fablevision 

Always remember:

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The Printed Image: Student Artwork On Display

“Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes one photograph, or a group of them, can lure our sense of awareness.” – W. Eugene Smith

2019 Miscoe Hill “The Printed Image” Artists

The following students will have their artwork on display in the Massachusetts Art Education Association exhibit The Printed Image from September 30 – November 15 at the MA State Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Boston. The artwork in the exhibit is curated by middle and high school art educators throughout Massachusetts.

In choosing work for this show, I tapped the tremendous well of artwork created by my students last year that was uploaded to our online Artsonia gallery. All of this artwork was created on iPads. I am incredibly proud of the following students whose work has been chosen for the show. Grades listed are last year, the school year in which the artwork was created.

Name: Kayla Aubut
Grade: 6
Title: Perspective
Medium: Photography
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Kayla Aubut

 

Name: Patrick Connolly
Grade: 5
Title: Exploration
Medium: Photography
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Patrick Connolly

 

Name: Kenneth Hanson
Grade: 6
Title: Self Portrait With Oversized Nose
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Kenneth Hanson

 

Name: Jacob Jiang
Grade: 6
Title: Digital Abstract
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Jacob Jiang

 

Name: Bridget Klupa
Grade: 6
Title: Sweet Tooth
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Bridget Klupa

 

Name: Maggie Lewinsky
Grade: 6
Title: Self Portrait
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Maggie Lewinsky

 

Name: Lucas Nguyen
Grade: 6
Title: Still Life Abstraction
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Lucas Nguyen

 

Name: Diana Plotkin
Grade: 6
Title: Funny Frog
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Diana Plotkin

 

Name: Lauren Tabakin
Grade: 6
Title: Digital Zone Doodle
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Laura Tabakin

 

Name: Linda Wang
Grade: 5
Title: Super Imposition
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Linda Wang

When you see these students in the hallways and out and about in the community, please congratulate them on their fine work!

 

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