Science topic: Light Waves
Participants: Year 8 students
Artist: Jim Bond
Our Light Waves project will be looking at the change from light to dark and our ability to control the intensity of light. We will be learning about light and how we see different colours and light waves. Using light projections we’ll explore light refraction and shadow, and we’ll work in teams to design a light sculpture and programme BBC Micro:bits to control it. During this process we’ll learn how computers interface with components, and will also learn about voltages and resistance, and how to solder wires onto LEDs. For our exhibition piece we will be constructing a light sculpture using wire and wood, which will enable us to experiment with different construction methods.
Session 1: 2nd February 2017
Things got off to a good start in our first session today. We met Jim who is a sculptor and Chris, an engineer who works for Cummins Turbo Technologies. Jim showed us images and a film of his work, and some examples of light and shadow sculptures. Chris talked to us about what he does at Cummins and explained that he is photophobic, which means that his eyes are sensitive to bright light. He used a drawing of light waves to explain how his eyes receive and process light. We started to think about the light sculpture we are going to build, by experimenting with different ways of sculpting with light. We worked in teams using lenses, prisms, bubble wrap, tissue, mesh, wire and an overhead projector to make light drawings on the wall, inspired by some of the words that had come up earlier in the session. One group made a face and another group made a giant eye. Then we made three-dimensional sculptures on top of the projector screens and used the projector lights to illuminate them.
Session 2: 9th February 2017
We started today’s session with Mr Hughes by writing down some of the light words we learnt last week and using them in sentences. We wrote them down and pinned them to the art room wall. In the computer room Chris taught us all how to copy and paste code onto BBC Micro:bits. Some of us enjoyed it so much we missed break so we could carry on coding. In the art room Jim taught us how to solder, so that we could solder wires to colour changing LED’s. They need four wires – two for power and two for code. We learnt a lot of new skills today, skills that we will need to come back to as we work on the design and development of our exhibition piece over the next couple of sessions.
Session 3: 2nd March 2017
Today we split into separate groups to continue the work on our light sculpture. We started coding with Chris then gradually we moved through to the art room where we soldered up LEDs onto wires then started work on drawing designs for our sculpture. Jim showed us an example of a light sculpture model he has recently made. The soldering was difficult, it needed careful concentration and accuracy, and some of us got the hang of it more quickly than others. When we tested the LEDs they flashed and changed colour – it was amazing to see them working.
Session 4: 9th March 2017
We all worked together in the art room this week. Jim showed us all the drawings we had worked on last session and there were lots of rainbows so we agreed that for our final piece we would build a three-dimensional wire rainbow. The plan was to then attach the LEDs we had already soldered up onto it, so that it lights up. We worked on three tables. One group worked with Jim building the wire structure, one group carried on soldering with Chris, and the third table worked with Miss Hussain reviewing and evaluating the work we have done on the project. After half an hour all the groups moved round so everyone did everything. Some of us stayed through break because we were enjoying making things. By the end of the session we had a 3D structure to attach our LEDs to. We left Jim with the job of putting the finishing touches on it to make it ready for the exhibition, and can’t wait to see it in the gallery!
“I was using observation to turn a drawing into a sculpture. I also used melting to attach two wires to a LED light so then we can put it on the sculpture”
” I learnt how to connect wires together to make an arch shape. Concentration was used because I had to see where I had to bend the wires”
“We programmed the lights in artistic patterns on the Micro:bit, and did some soldering, which was fun, to join wires and LEDs together”
” I learnt how to write and add text to the Micro:bit. I enjoyed this a lot as you got to add your own text and you learnt a new thing”
“We learnt how to solder wires and how to strip wires. It was quite difficult as you had to have a good grip”
“I liked soldering and watching the metal go away because it melted”
“The Change Project has been a huge success. It has been good to read some of the written summaries of today’s session and hear the students talk so passionately about the project” (Staff member)
A few final words from our teacher
“Students have thoroughly enjoyed the workshops. They were kept engaged, in particular by the artist – it was good to see them so enthusiastic. Students have been exposed to lots of different resources from both Science and Art, some of which were completely new to many of them, and they have had the opportunity to extend their knowledge of Science and Art vocabulary.” Shameela Hussain – Art Teacher