Plastic Makes It Possible
Art Teacher Hannah Gray found a way to make art and save the environment with the help of plastic bags.
It takes an estimated 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose. The thought of that wasn't far from Art teacher Hannah Gray's mind when she was looking into a STEAM project for her students. While doing research, she discovered something called "plarn". Think yarn, but made from plastic bags. Not only could this plarn make for some interesting art projects, it could also help the environment.
An all call was made to Cornerstone families and staff for all their plastic grocery bags and almost 3,000 plastic bags were collected. Over a period of two months, Kindergarten through Eighth Grade students prepared the plarn and used it in two separate STEAM projects.
Students in Third, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Grades wove the plarn to create a full size teepee in front of the art room, as part of their study of Native American art and architecture. Seventh and Eighth Grade students used plarn to weave three plastic sleeping mats that were donated to a local homeless assistance program. The completed teepee and sleeping mats were on display on campus until mid-March.
STEM Coordinator Joe Moseley is always looking for emerging and interesting activities that will give the students at The Cornerstone School the opportunity to apply their STEM skills.
When Head of School Ingrid Wasserfall saw a demonstration of a harmonograph at Santa Fe College in Gainesville over the summer and showed the Administration Team, Mr. Moseley was inspired. Investigating deeper, he found that this would not only be an excellent STEM project, it would also be an even better STEAM project. "While the device provides a host of educational opportunities (math, engineering, physics, art, etc.) the primary focus of this project was
engineering and art," said Mr. Moseley.
For the first quarter of the year, Eighth Grade students constructed their own versions of a harmonograph. To begin, students broke into small groups and chose their materials. One group dared to take on the challenge of using sand, while the others stuck with a version of ink and
paper. The students researched, sketched, designed and measured until they had their machines mapped out. Mr. Moseley and retired Cornerstone Science teacher Mr. Ed Harrison assisted the teams in bringing the students' creations to life.
Trial after trial, the students measured and balanced to get the pendulums to sync. "The physics of pendulum mechanics are at the foundation of any harmonograph device. This is true with those created by our students," Mr. Moseley said. "How the pendulums fall in and out of phase is mesmerizing, like watching a dance." The harmonographs were displayed in late October for other Cornerstone students to view. "This is a great intro into geometry, arcs and angles. One of our students would like to parlay this into his middle school science project," said Moseley.
STEM SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE
This past October, The Cornerstone School was awarded the 2018 STEM School of Excellence Award by the International STEM Education Association.
Mr. Joe Moseley, STEM Coordinator at Cornerstone, traveled to Branson, Missouri to accept the award on the school's behalf. Mr. Moseley was also an ISEA 2018 Mike Neden STEM Champion Award Recipient. The ISEA STEM Excellence Awards program honors schools who have implemented a comprehensive and integrated STEM education program. The Cornerstone School is one of three schools in the country and the only school in Florida to receive this prestigious award.
THE ART OF SCIENCE
The Eighth Grade Class used bacteria and dyed agar in petri dishes to create unique works of art.
Middle School Science Teacher Dan Peterson comes up with unique science projects each year. Why? It keeps both Peterson and his students challenged and motivated to tackle new projects that correlate with his lesson plans. “At Cornerstone, we attempt to continually move forward and challenge our faculty and students to go beyond the normal curriculum,” Peterson said.
A goal this year was to integrate science and art. Peterson and Middle School Art Teacher Shanna Stiles meet once a month to come up with a new way to engage students, ultimately deciding on a project that uses bacteria as an artistic medium. “Our Science and Art instructors collaborate and choose projects that introduce another avenue of exploration for our students to find their own passion and direction into the world of science,” Peterson said.
Blood agar plates donated by Ocala Regional Medical Center were used to test and identify different types of bacteria. Students used additional dyed agar plates of green, violet, blue and other colors, streaked with bacteria to create their masterpieces. Bacteria test plates grew at a temperature of 78-82 degrees and plates incubated over a period of 8 days, creating amazing pieces of artwork. Students learned differences between cells and the role of bacteria in everyday life all while allowing them the opportunity to express themselves through color and movement. ‘We wanted to expose our students to concepts they will see in high school and college in a way that was not intimidating,” Peterson said. “This was a way to get the students interested and passionate about science and art.”