Bruce includes art and design into his classroom projects in a variety of ways. “I try to base class on projects. A lot of these projects involve alternative assessments, so something related to art is not at all unusual. I may have my students take a label from a project, and analyze the information on that label. The analysis includes such things as the type of product, safety concerns, health concerns, disposal requirements, and so forth. That then needs to be presented in an artistic manner—[with attention to design, composition, etc]. His artistic approach includes at least one personal “fringe benefit.” “I want something visual that I can put it up in the classroom. It’s also true that students need to be able to prepare presentations in a visual manner—with video, photography, PowerPoint, etc.—and I try to encourage as much creativity as possible. So the carpentry student might do something with wood grains or with the finishes of woods.” The added attention to photography and design engages his visual and tactile learners. “I also adapted an art-based lesson from the book, Active Chemistry. In the book there is a chapter called ‘the Chemist as Artist.’ The initial question to ask is ‘What is art?’ My students move from basic concepts to more complex ideas as I challenge their ideas with new examples. ‘What Art is’ is still pretty formal for me, but I’m learning. Then we look at chemical reactions with pigments and nearly everything we use involves classic pigments.” “I also want to try a project with Raku. Raku is a traditional Japanese pottery process. Hand-molded bowls (usually ceremonial tea bowls) are fired in a kiln at very low temperatures. This, with lead glazing, produces metal oxides. Then the pieces are removed from the kiln early and allowed to cool in the open air. The finished objects seem to be coated with copper or silver from the oxides. I hope to try this project later this spring, when we can work outside.”
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