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Materials & Motion II

​​Today I’m continuing my post on the Materials & Motion unit I do with Kinders, but this project is fun for any age!

After thinking about repetition in art making and using our body as a drawing machine, we talk about designing a machine that could make circles over and over again.

One idea explored is a PENDULUM - defined as a weight hanging from a fixed point that moves freely. A great example of this, of course, is the grandfather clock, but another example familiar to children is a tire swing.

I create a pendulum mechanism for the classroom using water bottles and paint (the weight), hanging by string from my painting easel (the fixed point):

I did a lot of research to make this work for 30 students - there are lot of examples online that I referenced to get the best combination of variables. My material list included:

  • my painting easel (a tripod also works, or you can create you’re own stand as in the link below)

  • water bottle adapted with a glue nozzle, open bottom and string

  • several canvases grouped together on the floor

  • tempera paint (thinned 1:1 ratio with water)

  • drop cloths and spare butcher paper

Here’s a video of it in motion:

And here’s a link to one of the good references:

One way to engage kids is to talk about all the different variables and the process of trial and error to get the pendulum to work - good teachable moments. We talked about variable such as:

  • type of paint

  • thickness or thinness of paint

  • type of bottle and type of nozzle

  • height of pendulum

  • how close nozzle is to the surface

  • how fast the bottle spins

And the most excitement came when the two bottles collided, spilling paint and spinning off in new directions.

This may seem like a daunting mechanism to build but it can even be done outside - and you can test it with water first. Or it can be done on a smaller scale (see below). I even adapted the concept and used colored sand instead of paint for a bit less mess.

Good luck and have fun!!

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