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Modern art, kids, and science

I read this commentary from Kathy Ceceri at GeekDad (or would she be a geek mom?), and really appreciated her insight into how kids can interact with art and get science lessons out of it, and how in fact it makes learning that much more fun:

The Lifecycle by Torrance Fish

We dropped in to our local art museum the other day, and I was reminded of why taking kids to see art – especially contemporary art – is such a serendipitous experience. Just past the coat room … was the weirdest bicycle we had ever seen, and the man who made it – Torrance Fish, Senior Preparator at the Tang Teaching Museum & Art Gallery.  Mr. Fish explained that he was taking advantage of a hiatus between shows to set up his work, Lifecycle, and make a record of it. Lifecycle is made of steel tubing, bike parts, and electronics. When you sit on it and spin the pedals, a projection on the wall of roads Fish is fond of begins rolling. You can also see little video images of Fish using the Freecycle in what look like rear view mirrors.

The kids climbed aboard and gave it a whirl… It was incredibly cool.

But this kind of thing happens all the time at the Tang. One year, they had an exhibit of sound. One piece consisted of a wall full of file drawers. When you pulled one open, the sound would be released. (The museum usually has a sound exhibit programmed for its elevator, as well.) Another year there was a miniature movie theater. Inside the mini-theater everything was built to scale, which created the illusion that you were in the balcony of a vast cinema. When the usher showed you to your seat and you put on your headphones, you heard what sounded like people rustling around you as you watched the film on the tiny screen. And of course, the year they had the giant rotating bird’s nest, into which chairs and Legos and all kinds of neat things were woven. (I hear the artist came and roosted in the nest for an event.) …

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Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

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