Project: Lightbulb Moments
Participants: Year 3/4 pupils
Partnering with:  Fieldhead Primary Academy
Artist: Tim Curtis
Science topic: Light and Electricity Circuits

For our project we are combining investigations into the properties of light, learning about low voltage electric circuits and our spring term Humanities topic, for which we are studying an Anglo Saxon hamlet and a Leeds cityscape. We’ll be using sculpture techniques and junk and reclaimed materials, working in pairs and groups to make collaborative 3D light sculptures of the hamlet and the cityscape. In order to construct our light sculptures we’ll need to learn about how light works with our eyes, series circuits, LEDs and battery power, as well as how to translate ideas from 2D into 3D. We’ll be doing it with great care and attention to safety, of course!

Session Images

Session 1: 25th February 2016

This week we met Mr Curtis our artist and Steve our engineer and scientist from Cummins Turbo in Huddersfield. Steve worked with a small group to use a digital SLR camera to experiment with light and dark. The rest of our class worked hard in teams of two to try and make a simple serial electric circuit to light up a bulb. We all found out that if your battery cell is too powerful for your light bulb then you will overload your circuit and blow your bulb! We learnt that 2 or 3 bulbs in our series circuit are just right for the electric current from a 9 volt battery. Next week we are going to use what we have learnt about circuits and light to help us light up a model Saxon village.

“I learnt that if I change the F numbers on the camera I can let in more or less light and I saw that light travels in straight lines. Thank you Steve”

Session 2: 3rd March 2016

Wow! At Mill Lane we have some great electrical engineers and model designers, and some people who are getting very clever at understanding photography and how a camera and lens work! This week we all learnt some artistic model making skills with reclaimed card. We worked in pairs and managed to make a model Saxon roundhouse fixed to a base by creating flaps and slots in the different pieces of card. We learnt safe ways to handle scissors, and how to use a piece of clay, a flat stable surface and a sharp pencil to push two holes into card and start to cut a line or shape. Most of us worked as a team and remembered how to wire a series circuit with two bulbs and carefully slot the bulb holder into holes in the model to create the fire pit and the candlelit roundhouse. We combined art and science and history in one learning experience!   Our two different teams of photographers learnt firstly about shutter speed and how a faster shutter speed gives to a darker photo but a slower shutter speed gives you a brighter photo. Then they learnt how to use the zoom lens, viewfinder, display and straps, and how to hold the camera properly and shoot a photo.

Session 3: 10th March 2016

Another busy, full-on workshop this week at Mill Lane saw everyone extrapolate their knowledge and apply it in a brand new context!   By that Mr Curtis meant that everyone was able to take an idea and a way of working we had already learnt, and put it into good effect in a brand new piece of work. Steve (from Cummins Turbo) and Mr Curtis helped us remember our trip into Leeds last week on the train. Everybody remembered finding the golden owls and the skyscrapers. Then Mr Curtis showed everyone a couple of his Leeds Cityscape line drawings and some photos of the Leeds skyline. Everyone tried drawing the long, tall, straight, vertical and stretchy horizontal lines that we could see in the photos and drawings of Leeds. In teams we got to turn old cardboard boxes inside out and carefully use masking tape and glue guns to stick them together. Then we used what we had learnt about cutting, gluing, taping and fixing card to try and make some of Leeds’ tall buildings. Some of the class used a safe way to make holes in cardboard (using modelling clay, a table and a sharp pencil) to cut windows and doors in the model buildings. Mr Curtis demonstrated how they would look with our new set of LED string lights. It was Goodbye and  thanks to Steve today. He helped one group of us take stunning photos of everyone working and building, and he checked how much we had learnt about light and electricity with him. We’ll have a new volunteer from Cummins Turbo joining us next week for our last session.

“Can you show me how the power gets in the new lights, we had crocodile clips and a battery pack last time?”

“I’m going to cut one window for one lamp so we can all see the light through the holes”

“We need to glue gun these flaps inside out of each other then we want you to glue gun this cylinder tower to the end on the edge, look it’s got a folded line”

“I got the camera and I pointed at the tower, and I zoomed in so it was big, and Steve told me to make the a number bigger so the photo was light”

Session 4: 17th March 2016

We did it! We built and finished our cardboard city skyline, and used electricity and LED lighting to illuminate the windows. In our final workshop we met a new volunteer from Cummins Turbo because Steve had to go to meetings in America this week. Laura really helped us in our team model-making session by getting stuck in and helping build and make and join materials. We had our cardboard boxes assembled as buildings and shapes, but we still had to safely cut out the windows and doors we wanted in our buildings. After that we had to try and carefully thread, trace and run our LED electric strings so that our LED lights illuminate the windows we have cut in our buildings. We used what we know about light travelling in straight lines to help us place the LED’s and we used our class trip to Leeds on the train, and what we know about Leeds’ tall buildings, to design and make our own Leeds city skyline. When our city is in Batley Art Gallery, everyone will be able to see some of Leeds’ golden owls and some landmarks like Bridgewater Place, The Merrion Centre, Matthew Murray Engine House, Broadcasting Place and Leeds Town Hall from the shapes, forms, and details we have included.

“Look Mr Curtis, the lights shine in the windows, can you see them there?”

“Please put the glue just there on the fold so that the tube sticks to the tower”

“How do I open the battery box? Oh, click, push, slide. Can I have two batteries please?”

“We’ve got the owls and the dalek on our building and we have cut some windows. We don’t need a back for our model because it stands up. We have stuck masking tape to keep the lights in every window”

A few words from our teacher:

“Children have shown they are eager to talk about what they have learnt in other areas of the curriculum, and keen to share their experiences with other members of staff and children. In science lessons they relate what we are learning to the circuits they made in Change sessions. Children have developed a more positive attitude to working in groups.”

Our volunteer from Cummins Turbo Technologies said:

“I was impressed by the way Tim engaged the children in applying art as a medium to help them understand the technical topics of light and electrical circuits.  I was equally impressed with the enthusiasm and teamwork of the children, and how quickly they picked up and were able to apply their learning. I spent time at each session working with small groups of children, teaching them how to use a DSLR camera, experimenting with aperture size and shutter speed and their effects on light in photography.  I shared some practical uses of light in industry, for example lasers and solar panels. I thought the quality of work produced by the children was excellent” (Steve Mosley, CTT)