15 November 2013

Creative Research: From Straws to Soap . . .

The week after I got back from Vietnam, I played hostess to a couple of fabulous guest artists running a soap making workshop for my lovely little second graders. (Vietnam pretty much wore me out, so coming back to excited entrepreneurs running my class was definitely a good thing!)

98 Ft. is a local company specializing in creative activities and strategies for young people. Run by Mohamad Indera, 98 Ft. partners with Singapore-based artists and promotes workshops at schools around the island. Kidnovate is 98 Ft.'s program that champions creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship for young people. Kidnovate worked with my 2nd graders for two weeks, facilitating engaging and fun activities. 

PART 1  The first week consisted of a variety of activities challenging the students and sparking creative thinking. Each of my 15 classes were facilitated solely by Mohamad, with me playing back-up. The students loved having guests in the classroom! Mohamad was loud and boisterous, and really got the students excited and pumped-up. Even some of my more milder classes were jumping out of their seats! He created small printed booklets for each student to use. Inside the booklet were stories of young entrepreneurs and fill-in-the-blank activities for the students. One-by-one, the students took turns reading aloud the stories in the booklet. Their homework before the next week was to design a logo and packaging to be used for the soap making portion of this two-week guest artist spot, happening the following week.

The second half of class during the first week involved teamwork. The students were divided up into groups and asked to build towers out of straws. They could cut the straws and use tape, but their straw towers had to withhold a powerful gust of wind. I've never seen the students get so excited in all my time of teaching . . . Such an inexpensive product creating so much good and learning in the classroom!

The students actually went nuts. It was a competition. They had 20 minutes to build their towers. And they were in the zone. Without even asking or caring, they were climbing on tabletops and making things happen. I had tours of possible new parents coming through my classroom, and all I could do was shrug my shoulders and point to my happy, happy students . . . (I love the picture above, a panoramic image shot quickly with my phone. The students were moving so fast that some of their body parts are actually missing in the shot above. Ha!)

The students were really focused and driven to make a good finished product. There is only one time during that entire week that the competition turned a bit ugly. The typical, "why didn't we win" scenario. But for the most part, the kids were all super supportive of each other.

And formally, I absolutely loved some of the finished works. Look at the beautiful structures above! They look like gorgeous architectural models for museums being built in cosmopolitan cities. I really wanted to keep all of these beautiful pieces. Some of them ended up in their classrooms and some of them stayed with me . . . Either way, it's inspired me to use straws for one of my upcoming projects! YES!

When the time came to test their structures, the students started jumping up and down! It was hilarious! I absolutely loved how enthusiastic they were with their teammates and cheering on what they made. I felt like I was at some crazy boxing championship, people rushing the ring with their fists in the air. 

Mohamad set up all of the finished structures on one table and waved a huge piece of matte board in front of them, one-by-one. The structures swayed, tipped, and scooted across the table. Only a few of them actually toppled over. Yay for my students and their ability to build structurally sound forms!

Oh how the winning teams erupted in mass chaos! Just look at that blurred craziness above, and check out the mix of emotions and jumping below.  

And of course, Ms. Julia with her always-positive demeanor . . . Running around the classroom with a sign she created: everyone did awesome! (That they did, that they did.)

PART 2  During the second week of workshops, the students made soap with Dewi Mawardi of Dewi and Soap. And she was absolutely fabulous with the students. She was like this calm wind that blew through the classroom. She started the workshop with a brief 15 minute PowerPoint presentation, completely outlining the entire process of soap making for the students: how to, safety, and packaging. After that, she barely spoke a single word. She simply guided the students visually, by providing demonstration and physical examples.

Each class was divided into two sections, One section would work on finishing up their packaging and logo design, the other section would be making their soap. Then they would switch. I honestly never believed that we could get everything done in one class period, but magically we did. It's amazing what can be done with an 80 minute class period!

Ms. Dewi provided each of the students with a kit that included all of their supplies for the day: two plastic cups (one microwaveable cup, one thin plastic cup to be used as a secondary mold), two bags of glycerin (a clear bag and a solid bag, cut into meltable blocks), and one silicone cupcake liner (to be used as their main mold). In pairs the students would melt their glycerin blocks in the microwave, then they would add their colorant (blue or red for Stamford). 

After mixing in the colorant, the students took their liquid soap back to their tables and poured half of it into the cupcake liner and the other half into their thin plastic cup. While the soap set up in the molds, the students continued working on their packaging. About midway through the week, one of the students exclaimed, "Ms. Bailey, your room has turned into a science lab!" Ha! Yes!

They were absolutely thrilled when it was time to pop their now-solid soap out of the molds. Keeping their little fingers off of it while it was setting up was quite the challenge!

Their packaging slowly started to take shape. I was really impressed with some of the brand names of their soap. And they really paid attention to how their finished product came together: making sure the soap actually fit into the box they had prepared, the closure on the box, and how they would photograph the finished piece so that both the packaging and the soap could be seen clearly in the image.

"Blueberry: it's a Soap!"

"Wash Your Face"

"Sparkle Soap", and my all-time favorite: "Quinn-ja Soap" . . . 

Let us review, shall we?

Success! Some of the students even went home and made their own little soaps with their parents. Thankfully one of the parents sent me pictures of their finished work. Pretty great, eh?

So part of the reason that I had Mr. Leng work with my 3rd graders making handmade books and invited Mohamad and Dewi to work with my 2nd graders making soap is because we were having a schoolwide craft show--our very first Stamford craft show. My second graders displayed their soaps and my 3rd graders displayed their books. Different than our schoolwide art shows, this show celebrates smaller--handmade and somewhat functional--works. The show is still up, and the response is still filtering in. But I think the students are really happy! 

And of course, we are so thankful for Mohamad's organization of this two-week affair. He got his banner above, and--next week--he'll receive a whole smattering of thank you cards!! Stamford is so thankful for this fun and inventive workshop! The student's response? "More, please!" Y'all come back now, ya hear?!

1 comment:

  1. I am regular to check every post of this blog as well as its other supportive and knowledgeable informative blog post. I appreciate efforts of owner to deliver such valuable information to people.