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!!