Randolph 1st graders have been working on a project meshing art and science based on how we see color and where it comes from.
We began by discussing the necessity of light in order for us to see the world around us. The light that is emitted from a source is simply called white light, but the students learned that within that white light is a secret revealed to us by seeing a rainbow in the sky or creating one with a prism. When the waves of white light are bent, we can see that it is actually composed of the visible color spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) all bundled together. When white light strikes an object, some of the spectral color waves are absorbed into the surface of the object while others are reflected.
The students were amazed to discover that an object's color isn't produced by the colors that are absorbed into it, but the ones that are "rejected and reflected" back to our eyes.
We tested our newfound knowledge with Mr. Light Beam (white pvc pipe with colored dowels inside) and Mr. Eyeball (a big rubber eyeball). To show what they had learned, the students were challenged to pick out which colors are absorbed into an object's surface and which ones are reflected. They really enjoyed the physical representation of how their eyes see color.
After the big science lesson, we got down to our artwork by first observing pictures of eyes. We discussed the different parts like pupils and irises and looked at details like the crease of the eyelid, eye lashes, and that pink thing in the corner of your eye (pilca semilunaris).
After drawing the eye, we worked on our ruler skills by making marks at every inch across the paper and then using the straight edge of the ruler to draw straight(ish) lines across the paper, which was more challenging than it sounds! We then turned our drawings into printing plates, kind of like making a big stamp, by tracing the lines on soft, thin Styrofoam causing recessed lines of the image. Students learned how to ink up their plate with special rubber rollers called brayers, checking for the texture of the ink to know when they had enough to print. When the inked plates were pressed to the paper, viola! there was the image (in reverse)!
Before we added color to our prints, we reviewed the order of the color spectrum and learned about ROY G. BIV to remember the order. Students were given gel pens and focused on small, precise movements of the hand to improve control of the medium. Skin colors were added by blending soft pastels into the remaining spaces. They turned out beautifully!
When students can make cross-curricular connections, their understanding of their world as a whole is bolstered.
The relevance of visual arts to the human experience is profound and is tied into so much of our daily life that it is often taken for granted. But by revealing to the students how they can relate and apply their arts knowledge to their surroundings, we can deepen their awareness of the world.