Friday, June 22, 2012

Up for day five...

Designing from the half-model...

Most boat owners are familiar with half-models as crafted chunks of wood hanging on plaques on walls representing particularly successful hull designs, but forgotten by most these days is the role that half-models played in the original design of boats.

Some years back I did an experiment with high school students at CSS using half-models as tools for the design of sculpture. It was too sophisticated an idea for some of my students, but nonetheless, they gave it their best shot and I tuned it into an article for Woodwork Magazine commemorating this important  but nearly forgotten conceptual design tool.

 I am at it again, this time using a half-model in the design of a boat box, but not imposing it on the unwary except as an example. In honor of the  lovely boat for sale in the neighborhood made by Ferdinand (Red) Nimphius, I am naming my half-model derived box, "Nimphius." Part of my job as teacher is to "model" investigatory behavior that draws upon the cultural world around me. As you can see in the photo above, I started by making a simple template and converting to a mahogany half-model as no other wood would adequately represent the mahogany planked Nimphius which you can see in an earlier post. When the model was complete, I laid card stock on the curved surfaces and traced their shape. True to the use of half-models to scale up to larger sizes, I increased the size of components by 125 percent using a photo copier in the CFC office, then traced  the scaled up versions of component parts on thin pieces of mahogany. This was not done by neglecting the needs of my students, who are making wonderful progress.

 I have been making friends at CFC, and ALL as you might already expect, understand without scratching their heads, the wisdom of their own hands. That we know the power of our hands to engage learners and yet fail to creatively engage our children's hands in the formulation of their character and intelligence is stupidity in the first degree. By allowing educators to decide that hands don't really matter, we've taken the de-facto position that children don't matter either.

Those of us who know something about this have the responsibility to speak up and this same concern should apply at all levels of American education. One of the things my adult students will notice is that I'm always flipping things one way or another to create symmetry. What some may not know is that flipping left and right is a component of spatial sense, a vital ingredient for success in math that children develop by flipping matters and material objects in their own hands.

 Make, fix and create...

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