13 young artists ages 7-12 explored the creative side of science and technology this past spring and summer through our visual arts program in the Bronx. A mix of new and returning students joined us for our third semester in partnership with Hope for Us, where a grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the New York Tri-State Area allowed us to expand our program to serve children both with and without sickle cell anemia. This change allowed our returning students with sickle cell disease, who are normally held back from participating in extra-curricular activities due to their health, to interact with their peers in a safe and equitable environment where all students had the opportunity to shine.
Teaching Artist Kali Dinh incorporated elements of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) by having students design three-dimensional projects using lights and movement. “Not only did they learn about traditional art through art history, books, film, and techniques,” Kali says, “But they learned that art can branch out off of paper and take three-dimensional form and intertwine with technology.”
In one project, students created robots they called “doodlebots” that drew on their own. “The kids have to strategize when it comes to making the bots,” Kali explains. “First they create their bot body by decorating and customizing it. Secondly, they have to figure out where to position the markers, motors, wire, and batteries. Depending on where they position the markers and electronics determines how their doodlebots will draw.” In addition to teaching technology and art skills, the doodlebots invited the students to think critically about whether the art their robots created was ultimately their artwork or the doodlebot’s.
Another project had kids creating light-up buildings. By starting with a two-dimensional sketch before recreating their building in 3D using cardboard, masking tape, and LED lights, the students learned about architecture and working in a three-dimensional space. This was one of Kali’s favorite projects to teach: “I love how the kids experiment to see which shape or structure works best to support not only functionality but design,” she says.
Kali became a Teaching Artist to help children bring their imaginations to life, a goal she says she has been able to accomplish through this program. “I have never felt more joy teaching than I do at Arts to Grow at Hope for Us! Working alongside Vera, the crew, and the kids, I’ve felt truly blessed to be in their presence and watch them create beautifully stunning pieces. They learn so quickly and take in the art techniques so well that I am left impressed and happy at the end of every class.”
Our thanks to Kali, our partners at Hope for Us, and all of our students for a truly wonderful semester!