I gave each student a simple dowel and the assignment was to create a sculpture that moves in the wind and used 50% or more recycled materials. Anyone that also incorporated sound and/or light would get bonus points!
We explored the many ways that wind is already used for movement. Propellers, flags, windsocks, streamers, turbines, kites, mobiles, and more. We saw many examples on YouTube but the work of Anthony Howe impressed students the most. He deftly combines art and engineering to create his kinetic sculptures.
We began with sketches and brainstormed ideas. They listed materials that they might have at home for recycling; bottles, cans, shopping bags, plastic food containers, wire hangers, and more. We shared ideas with our peers for feedback and decided that because the work would be outdoors, plastics were desirable because paper might degrade quickly. Those who did use paper sprayed it with clear acrylic to waterproof it.
I supplied dowels, nails, basic construction tools, wire, nylon string, hot glue, thumbtacks, sharpie markers, and some craft materials for students to use. Students who had woodshop, graphic design, and metals were given buckets to raid recycling and trash bins. Many students raided bottle recycling bins in the cafeteria and cleaned them up in my sink.
Final projects were put on display around the school with small signs next to them. QR codes were added so that additional information could be accessed about the project by those who stumbled across our works.
It was an awesome way to end the year, and many people stopped by to express their delight in finding the sculptures around campus. Though this was done for a high school group of students, I have done this same project with my summer camp students ranging in age from 7 up to 16 years old.