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Is translation an art or a science?
Moving between dimensions and scales
Thursday, November 10, 2011

The light changed.

Even before Daylight Saving Time ended on Sunday, the shadows had lengthened and the sunlight was a little thinner.
Third grade explored light.
And dark.
Students broke up into pairs in science class to test the shadows (and reflections) cast by different materials.

Their teacher asked them to sort the materials into three categories.
She did not tell them what the categories should be.

Using their choices, she introduced new vocabulary: transparent, translucent and opaque.
In library, these students had been creating shadow puppets.

Students had deconstructed the books, and abstracted the illustrations.
Next week they will begin bringing the books to life. 
When the illustrations lost their color, they lost some of their depth.
But they picked up the ability to move.

Which ones made the transition better than others?
Back in science class, the third graders experimented with paper shadow puppets.
What happened when the puppets were close to the screen? 
What happened when they were close to the light? 
What happened when the light moved?
What did that have to do with focusing a projector?
Three-dimensional objects were introduced.
How did those change as they rotated?
Shadows have height and width, but do they have depth?
One student asked: is there a three-dimensional shape whose shadow did not change when it rotated?
He answered his own question, and the class gathered around to test his theory.
What did this have to do with the moon?
What did this have to do with a solar eclipse?
In the seventh and eighth grade art elective, another dimensional transformation was happening.
Flat pieces of cardboard were becoming ornate buildings.
The buildings were scale models of existing structures.
It was a geography lesson, an architecture study and a cross-cultural research project.
It also involved a great deal of math.
Fourth grade was comparing base ten and base twelve in their math time.
In Middle School art, they were switching between the two freely, with a simple flip of the ruler.
It was easier when they had their hands free.
Holding a tricky piece in place while the glue set, a teacher and student struggled to calculate circumference using radius, converting centimeters to inches, in their heads.
And the math was simply the foundation for larger questions...

...questions like: can we call back the caretaker at the Gropius House with a few more questions?

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