Friday, July 15, 2011

Science and Art: A Firecracker of a Combination

Paint exploded, balloons burst and learning took place last Thursday as children ages 7-9 practiced the scientific method while experimenting with velocity and trajectory in the Fireworks class. Three hundred (300!) water balloons filled with water or paint were thrown using comparative techniques, including overhand, underhand or with a slingshot. Children observed which technique made the biggest splat! When all the balloons had finally burst, we asked the group, “Why do you think the balloon from the slingshot did not make a bigger splat?” Answers varied between one boy’s, “Because it was cheap from the dollar store,” and a girl’s thought, “We could not pull it back as far as we could pull our arm back, so it did not get as much force.” Other children hypothesized about throwing techniques and examined ideas about force, angle, energy, trajectory and motion.

Science experimentation continued inside the Museum, adding art into the mix. One of the favorite activities combined paint with centrifugal force to fashion a Jackson Pollock-like creation. Children used the force of their hands to spin a brush that caused paint to spin “firework” images across a page. They also experimented with light and color using fluorescent oil pastels. After drawing a picture of fireworks in the classroom light, the children took their work into the Museum to watch it glow under a UV light. Once they observed which colors glowed the brightest, they raced back into the Studio to craft more pictures of fireworks.

Playing with the beauty of fireworks was a perfect merge of science and art. This group of older children really dug deep into the scientific method while still having a blast!

Submitted by Amelia Blake, Programs Intern and Marcia MacRae, Interdisciplinary Arts Specialist

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